LOS ANGELES — A man suspected of being one of Israel's most powerful crime bosses is charged with using a Los Angeles gang to distribute a million Ecstasy pills and paying one of the gang's members to kill a man for stealing a large drug shipment.
Itzhak Abergil, who prosecutors believe is one of the largest importers of narcotics into the United States, is among seven men listed in a 32-count federal indictment that alleges murder and international drug trafficking.
Abergil and his brother Mier Abergil were arrested Sunday in Israel. They face extradition to Los Angeles, where Itzhak Abergil would be charged with murder and his brother with racketeering and conspiracy.
The others listed on the indictment include four Israelis and a Los Angeles man suspected of being part of the gang that worked with the Abergils.
'Significant racketeering case'
"This is a significant racketeering case involving alleged criminal activity spanning the globe," said Thom Mrozek, spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office in California.
The indictment alleges the Abergil family is a small but powerful group with a "propensity for violence in Israel and around the world." The family and another group allegedly used members of the Vineland Boyz gang to traffic Ecstasy.
Prosecutors said Itzhak Abergil is one of the 40 biggest importers of narcotics into the U.S. and has been under investigation for more than five years.
Itzhak Abergil called the allegations "police provocation" at a custody hearing Tuesday. "I have never been to the United States," he said in a Jerusalem Post story.
The indictment said the Abergil organization had previously been involved in bank embezzlement in Israel and engaged in illegal activities in the U.S. to launder those proceeds.
Three other suspects were arrested in Israel and a fourth there was still at large.
Authorities were also looking for Luis Sandoval, who is accused of being a senior Vineland Boyz member who planned the killing of Sami Atias in 2003.
Atias and two associates allegedly stole about 350,000 Ecstasy tablets before Atias was shot in the head. The indictment does not identify who pulled the trigger.
Itzhak Abergil and Sandoval are charged with murder and face life in prison if convicted. Mier Abergil could face more than 50 years each in prison.
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