OLYMPICS chiefs face a new hurdle in the run-up to the 2012 Games as the Russian Mafia is set to swoop on London.

Gangsters from one of the world’s most feared mobs have set up business around the site in Stratford, East London.
Ruthless Russians, who have links to several vice dens in London, plan to cash in when hundreds of thousands of tourists hit the capital.
Hookers will whore themselves to punters, cocaine will flood the streets and extortion rackets will hit small businesses, police fear.
Gamblers could also be targeted in illegal betting rings. Sources at Scotland Yard’s organised crime unit say Russian families are working in bars close to the Olympic site.
The Daily Star Sunday has been told the names of the bars suspected of laundering millions in illegal cash but cannot reveal them for legal reasons.
One Yard insider said: “Several of these people are active members of the Russian Mafia. “They are suspected major players in drug trafficking, prostitution and protection.
“The Russians are highly skilled in averting the attentions of the police so it is very difficult to detect their criminal activities. They are also adept at integrating into communities and putting on a legitimate front for their business.
“But we are certainly keeping an eye on them.” The source said Russian mobs would most likely use low-level dealers from Eastern Europe to lure foreigners into buying drugs on the back streets of London’s vice blackspots like Soho.
He also revealed that young women would be paid pennies as sex slaves working in seedy strip joints, brothels and casinos.
And some would even pose as “birthday girls” inviting ogling fellas to splash their cash on drinks – only to hit them with whopping credit card bills in extortion scams.
He added: “Drugs and prostitution bring in most of the money.
“Obviously there’s going to be a hell of a lot of people flooding into London from all over the world so it’s prime time for sophisticated criminal gangs – and the Russians are certainly that.
“They pose a different kind of threat than terrorist fanatics and suicide bombers but they will still target innocent people.
“There’ll be a lot of tourists and even Brits visiting clubs and lap- dancing bars – and, while they may not know it, it’s likely in some places they’ll be funding Mafia activity with every shot of vodka they buy.”
The mob menace comes as Olympics bosses worldwide warn of a 2012 Mafia betting scandal.
International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge said: “We should not be naive. Sooner or later this might occur in the Olympic Games.”
At the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, suspected Russian Mafia kingpin Alimzhan Tokhtakhounov was nicked for allegedly bribing ice skating judges but later cleared.
He is now one of the world’s most wanted men.



Russian Mafia Gangster: RUSSIAN…
Ruthless Russians, who have links to several vice dens in London, plan to cash in when … Hookers will whore themselves to punters, cocaine will flood the streets and extortion rackets … The source said Russian mobs would most likely use low-level dealers from Eastern Europe … The Blog of Jewish-American Gangsters ……

Russian Jewish
Organized Crime

By Mike La Sorte, Professor Emeritus


Mike La Sorte is a professor emeritus (SUNY) and writes extensively on a variety of subjects.

* * *

“The Italian mafia has a singular link between Italy and America. The Russian Mafiya is more international. The Russians seem crazier than do the Italians. While the mafia uses violence to punish enemies, the Mafiya will kill the enemy, his wife, his children. They kill as a warning and for the sheer joy of tyrannical violence. Because the Russian mob is mostly Jewish, it is a political hot potato, especially in the New York area. In general, state and federal law enforcement agencies were loath to go after Russian mobsters, instead devoting their energies to bagging Italian wise guys, a traditional route to promotion.” (Robert I. Friedman. Red Mafiya. How the Russian Mob Has Invaded America, 2000)






    Russian Jewish
    Organized Crime

    By Mike La Sorte, Professor Emeritus


    Mike La Sorte is a professor emeritus (SUNY) and writes extensively on a variety of subjects.

    * * *

    “The Italian mafia has a singular link between Italy and America. The Russian Mafiya is more international. The Russians seem crazier than do the Italians. While the mafia uses violence to punish enemies, the Mafiya will kill the enemy, his wife, his children. They kill as a warning and for the sheer joy of tyrannical violence. Because the Russian mob is mostly Jewish, it is a political hot potato, especially in the New York area. In general, state and federal law enforcement agencies were loath to go after Russian mobsters, instead devoting their energies to bagging Italian wise guys, a traditional route to promotion.” (Robert I. Friedman. Red Mafiya. How the Russian Mob Has Invaded America, 2000)

    The ethnic makeup of the Mafiya leadership is largely Russian or Georgian (64%). Among the remaining capomafiyas are found Armenians, Azerbaijani, Uzbeks, Ukrainians, Kazakhs, Abkhazians, and Chechens.

    They administer their own form of justice based on a code of conduct and have their own tribunals. The capos are generally youthful, the majority being between thirty and fifty years of age. Only a few exceed 60 years of age. These are persons who do not fear imprisonment, are incorrigible and primed for anything.

    The origins of the Mafiya are obscure. Thieves existed, of course, even before the reign of Peter the Great (1625-1725). In Moscow alone there were as many as 30,000, but they were not organized into clans. More or less organized criminality arose in the 1700s. The fraternal order vor v vzakonye, or “Thieves-in-Law”, with the attributes of organized crime, is a recent phenomenon and was not evident before the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917. By the 1930s, the vors had evolved and were making common cause with Soviet political dissidents.

    After the 1917 revolution and the fall of Czarism, the enemies of the new order sought out the “Thieves in Law” for their own purposes. This integration of alienated young men resulted in a counterculture with a code of behavior that went against traditional values, including not accepting employment or forming a family or doing military service. In short, their ideological quarrel with the State was total, including a rather rigid version of the Sicilian code of silence and honor, omertà.

    The alliance of common criminals and young intellectuals was doomed to fail from the outset. The two different mentalities—one for social reformation, the other committed to an antisocial criminality—could not find a middle ground. During the 1930s the counterculture began to disintegrate. The delinquents formed their own autonomous groups, guided by “learned” bosses called urki. From this history arose the vor v vzakonye that became the foundation for today’s much more sophisticated Red Mafiya.

    Much has been made of the extreme barbarity of the Mafiya. Conciliation is not one of its strengths. “They’ll take out a whole family. But first they’ll torture victims to send out a message—they’ll cut off fingers, use acid, decapitate heads. It’s gruesome.” The mobsters have an unquenchable thirst for blood and money, extorting even their own kind, whom they feel are especially vulnerable. In North America, as one example, they have targeted Russian-born hockey players. “The Mafiya has made the sports business one of its sources of revenue. Bribes, extortions, and killings are common.”

    The vors consider themselves as the aristocracy of the underworld because they made their “bones” the hard way. Many of the older generation was recruited while serving sentences in the infamous work camps of the Siberian Gulug prison system. The clans have a structure and culture similar to the Sicilian Cosa Nostra, but there is no overall Mafiya Commission. A similar hierarchy of command appears to be non-existent; no capoclan accepts orders from others, certainly not a supreme capo. Interclan cooperation does occur when bands unite for international ventures, often in alliance with non-Russian mafias. The so-called “cocaine triangle,” for instance, involves a combination of Colombian drug barons, Israel-Jewish money launderers and Jewish-Russian mafiosi. The Columbians funnel the cash, the Israelis launder it, and the Russians provide the security and muscle.

    Despite the variations from the Sicilian model, the Mafiya has the characteristics of many other criminal societies. There is the use of intimidation as an instrument of social mobility and entrepreneurial profit, and the imposition of the no-squealing rule in those communities where the mafia holds sway. Also the co-involvement of important segments of the political class and socio-economic institutions in illegal activity (e.g., influence peddling, bribing, and money recycling), and the ability to significantly impact the legitimate economy through the infusion of vast sums of ill-gotten gains.

    It is a convenience to use the term Red Mafiya to refer to what is in fact a complex phenomenon. Just as we speak generically of the Italian mafia when there are actually five with different histories, rather than using the singular word “Mafiya,” the more correct designation is the plural “Mafiyas.” Nor are they all Russian or based on an ethnic affiliation. There is the Georgian mafia, the Uzbec mafia, Ukrainian mafia, the mafia of Vladivostok, one in Kazan, the mafia of the ex-agents of the KGB, the mafias of oil and wood, the mafia of financial institutions, and others with specific functions and skills. There are many easy pickings in the former republics of the Soviet Union.

    By one estimate, during Mikhail Gorbachev’s regime organized crime enterprises in the Soviet Union increased from 785 to 5691. After the dissolution of the USSR and the downfall of communism, an economic, moral and social vacuum was created that allowed opportunists to take full advantage of the resulting chaos. The Solntsevskaya mob, named after a Moscow suburb, is one of the largest. Such mafias engage in systematic extortion schemes, which have become a way of life in the Russian capital. “You have to grease the palm or your business will have a short life span.” Profitable institutions are the most susceptible to a shakedown. A show of wealth is an invitation for a less-than-friendly visit. Estimates indicate that a goodly number of private businesses and most state-owned companies and banks have been infiltrated by the mafioso plague

    The Mafiya has become transnational in scope. Russian émigré colonies in New York’s Brighton Beach district, in Israel, Paris and London are nesting criminal gangs. Some have gone as far afield as Sri Lanka for prostitution and gambling.

    In the early 1970s the Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev opened the gates to limited emigration of Soviet Jews. Among them were hard-core criminals who had served prison sentences in the Gulag. In the two-year period 1972-73, more than 66,000 Russian Jews left their homeland, most of them going initially to Israel. The Israeli “law of return” made it easy for the Jews of the Diaspora to receive Israeli citizenship. Also non-Jews have purchased forged documents that declared them Jews to gain entrance to the country.

    The criminals among them quickly entered the Israeli underworld and made their presence known by investing their laundered wealth in Israeli real estate, businesses and banks. By all accounts, Israel has become a haven for the Mafiya and a base for their international operations. Mob moguls are in residence as respected businessmen. Jonathan Winer, a former State Department expert, states categorically that, “There is not a major Russian organized crime figure whom we are tracking who does not carry an Israeli passport.”

    The Brighton Beach Boys. In the 1970s more than 40,000 Russian Jews settled in Brighton Beach, a former working-class Jewish neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York. One of those immigrants was Marat Balagula, who was born in Orenburg, Russia, in 1943. Once settled in Brighton Beach, he turned the Organizatsiya, the local mob, into a very profitable transnational criminal society. His most spectacular success was in the gasoline bootlegging business. Marat gained control of fourteen gas stations, formed two fuel dealerships and proceeded to buy gas from a corporation owned by the Nayfeld brothers. This setup provided a scheme to avoid paying billions of dollars of gasoline taxes.

    The scam worked as follows: Taxes were collected at the pump. Instead of turning the cash over to the government, the money was pocketed and disappeared without knowledge of the IRS. A number of shell distributorships were the key. One of these companies would purchase a shipment of gasoline and then make a number of paper transfers. At the end of the blizzard of paper would be a dummy company that was required to pay the taxes to the IRS. Instead, the company sold the gas at cut-rate prices to independent retailers with a phony invoice, stamped “All Taxes Paid.” By the time the IRS came looking for the taxes due, the revenue agents were stymied by a twisting paper trail that lead to a dead end. There was no one person or company that could be held accountable for the non-payment.

    The scam became the biggest tax heist in U. S. history. The Russian mobsters by 1985 had stolen as much as $8 billion a year by evading state and federal taxes. Rampant cheating by gas stations had always been a problem, and often ignored. What the Russians did was to raise it from penny-ante chump change to a well-organized and lucrative racket. Shell corporations are frequently used as a means of pocketing what otherwise belongs to the government.

    “On August 8, 2005, Garri Grigorian, a 43-year-old Russian living in Sandy, Utah, was sentenced to 51 months imprisonment and ordered to pay $17.42 million in restitution to the Russian government for his role in laundering over $130 million on behalf of Moscow-based Intellect Bank and its customers through bank accounts located in Sandy, Utah.” (From a Department of Justice report on shell corporations, November 14, 2006)

    Marat Balagula received an 8-year sentence for credit card fraud and, in 1992, an additional ten years for evading federal taxes on the sale of four million gallons of gasoline. When questioned, he was not forthcoming regarding Russian mob activity in the U.S. ” No,” he insisted, “there is no such thing as the Russian Mafiya. Two or three friends hang out together. That’s a Mafiya?”

    At first, investigators recognized Russian crime as a growing problem, but not an organized one. Food stamp scams and the like were treated as isolated cases committed by street criminals, who were not mobbed-up in mafia-like relationships. Further investigations were to reveal that the Brighton Beach boys did in fact constitute a criminal enterprise, and had corrupted the local cops who were on their payrolls so that were able to act freely and openly without threat of arrest. “Cops in cheap suits who looked like gangsters worked the door as bouncers and sat at the front tables in Russian mob joints.”

    “Nobody takes the Russian Jewish mob seriously,” said a NYPD detective. “The lack of interest of law enforcement has given them time to grow.” A major roadblock was the super sensitivity to the Jewish aspect of émigré crime. The Jewish leaders worried that the resulting negative publicity from acknowledging the existence of Russian Jewish mobsters, of which there were an estimated 5000 in the New York metro region, would foster a wave of anti-Semitism.

    “The Mafiya dominates Russia, and has Eastern Europe in a bear hug. It is also turning Western Europe into its financial satrapy, and the Caribbean and Latin America have quickly become sandy playpens for coke and weapons’ deals with Colombian drug lords. There are few nations where the Russian mob does not hold some influence, making efforts to combat it ever more difficult.” (R.I. Friedman, 2000)

  2. Russian Jewish Leader Charged with Kidnap.
    The Independent [Great Britain], January 25, 2001
    “The deputy head of the Russian Jewish Congress, Mikhail Mirilashvili, has been arrested in St Petersburg and charged with kidnapping two people. The chairman of the congress, Vladimir Gusinsky, a media magnate, is already under house arrest in Spain after Moscow demanded his extradition. Police say the two cases are unconnected, but the Russian Jewish community will be alarmed that the authorities are pursuing two of its most prominent members. Mr Mirilashvili, who holds joint Israeli and Russian citizenship [so does Gusinksky], was due to leave Russia this week with the Israeli President, Moshe Katzav, who is on a state visit. Mr Mirilashvili is a director of the St Petersburg company Russian Video, which was bought by Media-Most, controlled by Mr Gusinsky, in 1997. Mr Gusinsky was later accused of defrauding the state by buying the company for $10m (£6.6m) – well below its real value. Over the past year the Kremlin has relentlessly feuded with Mr Gusinsky and Media-Most, which owns much of the independent media in Russia, because of its criticism of the government.”

    Spain Holds Israeli Drug Lord Wanted by U.S.
    [Associated Press/Haaretz] May 23, 2001
    “An Israeli [Oded Tuito] described as a major international smuggler of the drug Ecstasy is in custody in Spain awaiting a court decision on an American request for his extradition …Spanish newspapers report that Tuito ran a massive smuggling operation in Europe, Israel, and the United States … Israeli crime syndicates with links to Russian mobs are the primary source of Ecstasy smugglied in the United States, according to the DEA.”

    ‘Sammy the Bull’ Trial Lifts Veil on Israelis in Ecstasy Trade.
    [Jewish] Forward, January 19, 2001
    “A celebrated mob informant’s trial on drug-distribution charges is opening a window on an aspect of the drug trade that many New Yorkers would rather ignore. According to federal and local law enforcement officials, Israeli criminals have cornered the market on the drug ecstasy, controlling by some accounts as much as 75% of the American market … According to the Drug Enforcement Agency’s web page, ‘In recent years, Israeli organized crime syndicates, some composed of Russian émigrés associated with Russian organized crime syndicates, have forged relationships with Western European traffickers, and gained control over a significant share of the European market. The Israeli syndicates are currently the primary sources to U.S. distribution groups.” … ‘There are a lot of Israeli criminals in the three major hubs, New York, Miami and Los Angeles, so they didn’t have to reinvent the wheel,” Mr. Abramovsky said … In July 1999, after a 21-month investigation, a joint federal-state organized crime-drug enforcement task force uncovered a smuggling operation that relied mostly on carriers of an unexpected nature in the drug business: young chasidic men. … Sean Erez, an Israeli who according to the authorities ran the ring, is still in Amsterdam, where authorities are weighing a request for extradition to the United States. In February 2000, another ecstasy ring ran by Israeli citizens was exposed in Queens, N.Y. The group, allegedly headed by Oshri Amar, the son of a famous 1950s-era Israeli pop singer, was alleged by authorities to be distributing MDMA in clubs on the East Coast and in California. Some of these clubs made huge headlines in the New York press in the mid-1990s, where they were dubbed ‘drug bazaars’ … Drug officials assert that additional side effects include anxiety and depression, and in the long run also permanent brain damage. The ecstasy trade is building a new reputation for Israeli criminal muscle, especially when combined with Russian gangs.”

    Stripper-Hasid Connection Bared by ‘Ecstasy’ Bust. New York Post. May 25, 2001
    “An international ‘ecstasy’ kingpin [Israeli Oded Tuito], busted for smuggling the mind-bending pill into New York, was using leggy strippers, Hasidic teens in yarmulkes, and senior citizens as New Age drug mules, authorities say … An Israeli national, named Sean Erez, allegedly tutored by Tuito in ecstasy smuggling, had risen through the ranks of Tuito’s drug mob … [Erez] hired Hasidic high-school boys … These are kids who spend hours a day in the synagogue … Federal Judge Leo Glasser … sentenced nearly a dozen local Hasidic men. In March, Miami authorities busted a 71-year old retired Queens tailor … Machloof Ben-Chitrit.”

    Ecstasy Lord Cops Plea Deal. New York Post, June 28, 2001
    “An international “ecstasy” kingpin, whose organization flooded the United States with the popular club drug, is facing 17 years in prison after copping a plea in federal court yesterday. Prosecutors charge Jacob Orgad, 45, sold hundreds of thousands of pills to Israeli national Ilan Zarger. Zarger pleaded guilty in January to overseeing a ring that the feds say supplied Salvatore ‘Sammy Bull’ Gravano.”

    Israel’s Other Export. Moment, August-September 2001
    “Ecstasy, along with marijuana, hashish, heroin, and cocaine, is heavily used and traded in Israel today, in what some call a sign of the times. Contemporary Israel is an affluent, drug-consuming country—with an estimated 300,000 casual drug users and some 20,000 junkies [from at total man, woman, and child population of about 6million]. There are no reliable statistics on Ecstasy use in Israel, but in 2000 alone, police confiscated 270,000 Ecstasy tablets from smugglers, students, and partygoers in a series of stings. That same year, according to an online report by the Israeli Authority for Combating Drugs, Israeli agents confiscated more than 80 kilograms of heroin, 30 kilograms of hashish, 8,885 kilograms of marijuana, and nearly 8,000 ‘sheets’ (resembling sheets of postage stamps) of LSD … According to a report of the United Nations Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention, 75 percent of all crime in Israel is drug-related … According to a U.S. State Department White Paper on Global Narcotics, issued in 1998, the Jewish State is ‘a drug-consuming country with serious marijuana, hashish and heroin use, and a growing problem of cocaine, LSD, and amphetamine consumption.’ But perhaps more striking, the report found that Israel is ‘no longer just a user nation, but like Colombia, Thailand and Pakistan, it has also now become a trafficking power.’ Authorities say Israeli crime groups have for several years had a virtual monopoly on global distribution of Ecstasy … So how did organized Israeli crime rings become so adept at distributing and marketing Ecstasy globally? According to Antwerp police, Israelis have had smuggling networks in place for years: They shipped stolen diamonds through Brussels and Amsterdam to points worldwide.”

    Heroin Scandal Rocks London’s Devout Jewish Community.
    The Independent [London], [posted here at the Media Awareness Project, a drug policy reform group], July 25, 1998
    “The Orthodox Jewish community has been shocked by a series of arrests of its members for alleged heroin smuggling. Police and Customs inquiries are centering on a drugs link between Israel, Antwerp and London … Police in several European countries began to suspect that the diamond area of Antwerp was becoming an international centre for drug smuggling two years ago when an Orthodox Jewish man from Antwerp was arrested at Ramsgate. Dror Hazenfratz … from Antwerp, was jailed for 11 years for trying to smuggle heroin … Hazenfratz, who was born in Haifa and holds an Israeli passport as well as a Belgian identity card, appeared in Canterbury court wearing traditional dress and carrying the Talmud … Hazenfratz said he had been told to meet a Georgian Orthodox Jew at a north London hotel. The ultimate destination of the drugs was reputedly David Santini, a Glaswegian who, at the time, was Scotland’s leading heroin dealer … British drugs officers suspect they are seeing the beginning of a new drug operation involving Antwerp’s Orthodox Jews and the Russian Mafia … Last week, evidence of the violence associated with drug crime surfaced again in Antwerp. A Jewish trader in precious metals in the city, Rachmeil ‘Mike’ Brandwain, also reputed to be a leading figure in the Russian Mafia, was shot dead.”

    Mr. Nice. This is the entrepreneurial home page of Howard Marks, a famous British-based drug dealer who is now a performer and drug advocate after his release from an Indiana prison. He served seven years of a 25-year sentence for his role in the international drug trade. “At the height of his smuggling operation, Mr. Marks was reputedly responsible for the majority of the marijuana smoked in the western world in the 1970s and early 1980s.” [Hull Daily Mail, 2-7-2000, p. 4] “The head of the United States Drug Enforcement Agency in Miami once called Marks ‘the Marco Polo’ of drug trafficking’.” [Dening, Penelope. The Irish Times, September 7, 1996] Information about a Jewish heritage is hard to come by. We may note, however, that Marks’ daughter Myfanwy lives in Israel. [Campbell, Duncan. The Guardian {London}.Second Front: Howard’s Way …, April 26, 1995, p.12]


    Accountant Faces Drug Sentence, Totally Jewish, November 26, 2001
    “A chartered accountant, who played a key role in an international plot to launder millions of pounds worth of Israeli drug money, has been told by the judge to expect a jail sentence. Appearing in Southwark Crown Court, Philip Lyons, from Stanmore, pleaded guilty to conspiring with others to converting the proceeds of drug trafficking and criminal conduct between June 1 and March 7 this year. The dad-of-three, who was part of a gang that laundered the proceeds of numerous heroin and ecstasy deals and then sent the money to Spain, was remanded in custody …. Lyons will only be sentenced after the trial of Abraham Israel, 31, of Cadoxton Avenue, Stamford Hill, who pleaded not guilty to the same two charges and denies assisting another in the retention of the benefits of drug trafficking and criminal conduct.”

    A Country for Sale, Jerusalem Post, October 8, 2001
    “Israel’s growing reputation as a major money-laundering center is threatening to undermine its international financial standing … In 1997 sources estimated that Israel was attracting some $4 billion to $5b. annually in laundered money – presumably this number has only increased since then. In Israel many people have been quick to blame the influx of Russian immigrants for Israel’s recent positioning as one of the money-laundering capitals of the world. Reportedly, the Russian ‘mafia’ has taken advantage of the country’s liberal immigration and banking secrecy laws to introduce the laundered money, using immigrants as couriers or fronts. However, it is wrong to assume that without the Russians there would be no money laundering in Israel, as many South Americans, Israelis and international diamond dealers are believed to have long used Israel as a money-laundering safe haven …The stereotypes behind some Russian immigrants and their alleged mafia affiliations have been reinforced by a number of high-profile money-laundering investigations, including that of businessman Zvi Ben-Ari (formerly Gregory Lerner), who, in 1998 pleaded guilty to charges of bribery and bank fraud. Recent headlines include the ongoing investigation of well-known businessman Gad Ze’evi, who has been questioned by the police for allegedly involving Russian businessmen suspected of money laundering in his 1999 acquisition of 20% of telecommunications company Bezeq for $630m.”

    ‘Israeli Mafia’ Members End Up Dead in S.Africa,
    Jewish Bulletin of Northern California
    The ‘Israeli mafia’ has made headlines in South Africa following the recent discovery of the body of an alleged group member. Shai Avishar, 36, disappeared from the trendy Johannesburg suburb of Norwood last October. His body was discovered in a shallow grave some 40 miles away following a tip-off to police … Avishar allegedly had contacts with a reputed mob leader in Israel, Yossi Harari. Avishar and his former wife, Johannesburg socialite Hazel Crane, were friends of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, who has remained a prominent and influential politician since her divorce from former President Nelson Mandela a few years ago … Police suspect that Avishar was murdered by another member of the syndicate after an apparent double-cross in a diamond deal. Police have linked an additional two murders to the syndicate, and they suspect a third .. Motti Raz, who came to South Africa in 1996, apparently launched the so-called ‘Israeli mafia.’ He was later killed and his body found, also in a shallow grave, near Johannesburg. The syndicate has been implicated in various crimes, including illegal diamond dealing, drug trafficking, protection payments and illegal firearms. It is said to operate primarily in the three largest cities in South Africa — Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban — where Jews have been the prime targets of the group. The police say that four syndicate members have been killed so far, all by their own people. ‘They are powerful, but they are killing their own people because they are too greedy,’ the police spokesman said.”

    Hassidic link to drugs barons. Ultra Orthodox US Jews accused of ‘cleaning’ Colombian coke cartel cash,
    The Observer (UK), November 10, 2002
    “The Observer British and American drug-busting authorities claim to have smashed one of the most bizarre money-laundering services ever operated for Colombian cocaine cartels: a circle of ultra-religious Hassidic Jews in New York. The ring is said to be one of the biggest to be ‘cleaning’ profits amassed by the Colombian coke barons, with the strange twist that it is run by a group from the Jewish community that acts as moral and spiritual guardian of the Orthodox faith. This is not the first time the Hassidim have been exposed as involved in the big-time drug trade. Last year, the trial ended of a circle run by Sean Erez, a Hassidic who oversaw a massive ecstasy smuggling operation, drawing recruits from the young Orthodox community. In that case, the drug was smuggled in boxes worn either under traditional Hassidic hats or next to the heart, intended to contain prayer scrolls, or else packed into white athletic socks … [T]he Manhattan District Attorney’s office told The Observer that a ringleader is still being sought and that the case may go far wider and deeper than the $1.7 billion [Abraham] Zaltzman and [Aaron] Bornstein are accused of laundering. A warrant is out for the arrest of a third man, Akiva Apter, who remains a fugitive and who sources say might prove to be one of the most important ‘cleaners’ of drug profits in America … . Zaltzman spends half his year in Israel … At their arraignment last week, both men were supported by a small crowd of Hassidim in the public gallery … The ecstasy smuggling case last year, along with other Hassidic involvements in the drug trade, sent shock waves through the orthodox community, which this case will echo. Erez, a Canadian-Israeli with US residence, recruited young Hassidim to smuggle what they were initially told were diamonds from Amsterdam. Hundreds of thousands of pills and grams of pure MDMA (the active ingredient in ecstasy) were brought in. Arrests of dealers from California to Houston were sourced back to the Hassidic ring … Wiretaps showed smugglers reluctant to take flights on the Sabbath and one of Erez’s agents was picked up in Montreal with a suitcase full of ecstasy because she had refused to take the bus to New York on a Saturday.”

    Dream trip that turned into an Indian jail nightmare, Briton, 22, held for smuggling hashish after carrying friend’s case at airport,
    Guardian (UK), January 8, 2003
    “She should, by now, have been relaxing on a beach in Australia. But last night Daisy Angus, a 22-year-old British backpacker, was preparing for another night in a squalid Indian cell after her round-the-world trip turned into a nightmare. Ms Angus, from Bournemouth, Dorset, was arrested in Bombay six weeks ago after agreeing to carry a suitcase belonging to an Israeli friend. As she went though customs, Indian officials, to her horror, discovered 10kg (22lb) of hashish hidden in a secret compartment. They immediately arrested Ms Angus, who is now locked up in central Bombay’s grim neo-gothic Arthur Road prison. She is likely to be charged with drug smuggling. If convicted, she faces the prospect of 10 years in an Indian jail .. Her co-accused, Israeli businessman Yoran Kadesh, 37, is in the same prison. Indian officials captured him as he attempted to run away from the airport. Ms Angus’s father John – who is in Bombay trying to negotiate her release – said she was utterly distraught. She had contracted malaria within a week of her detention in late November, and was now very sick, and sharing a small, filthy cell with 43 other women inmates. ‘Whenever I see her in prison she just says: ‘Daddy daddy daddy. You can’t leave me here’,” he said last night. ‘This has absolutely destroyed us. It hasn’t just affected me but our three other kids and grandchildren. Daisy is not capable of this. The only thing she has ever wanted to do is help people. She has been set up’ … The backpacker, a trainee fitness instructor, spent her early childhood in India when her parents worked for five years as volunteers in Mother Teresa’s home for the destitute in Calcutta … Ms Angus met Mr Kadesh on an earlier trip. She agreed to fly to Amsterdam with him after he told her it was the only way he could pay back money he had borrowed from her. ‘Her rucksack broke,’ Mrs Angus [mother] said. ‘He gave her a suitcase and asked her to put her clothes inside. She put them in and carried on doing her make-up. “He took the suitcase downstairs and a porter took it to the airport. She never realised how heavy the case was … Her ordeal focuses attention on India’s flourishing drug trade – and on the remote Kullu valley in north India, where Mr Kadesh apparently ran a shop with his 41-year-old brother. The beautiful valley is known for its cheap and plentiful supply of hashish – and attracts thousands of backpackers each year. It also has a sinister side. Some 15 western tourists have disappeared there without trace. Indian police have planted drugs on foreigners and demanded large bribes for their release. A powerful Israeli mafia allegedly controls much of the trade. Last month a British charity worker, Ian Stillman, was released from prison early after being convicted in similar circumstances.”

    Marijuana Mitzvah? Support Growing for ‘Guru of Ganja’,
    [Jewish] Forward, February 14, 2003
    “To the federal government, Ed Rosenthal is simply a drug pusher, an enemy combatant in the war on drugs. To folks like Jane Marcus, however, the Bronx-born Rosenthal is a hero — a Jewish hero, in fact, whose cultivation of marijuana for medicinal purposes qualifies as a life-saving ‘mitzvah.’ Which explains why delegates to last weekend’s regional convention here of Reform Judaism’s national synagogue body were seen sporting buttons, distributed by Marcus, in support of Rosenthal, who was found guilty on January 31 of felony charges of cultivating marijuana. The case made national headlines when jurors complained after the trial that they had never been informed that Rosenthal was acting within city and state laws protecting medicinal use of the drug. … Rosenthal and Klein are members of Temple Sinai in Oakland, where Rabbi Steven Chester said the federal government’s prosecution, while legal, was clearly ‘immoral.’ ‘Whether or not one agrees with medical marijuana, the way the whole case was tried was just a travesty,’ he said, adding that he would be meeting privately with Rosenthal and Klein to strategize how he and the congregation could show their support … Rosenthal [is the ] author of numerous books on marijuana cultivation and a longtime columnist for the pro-marijuana magazine High Times … Now, as his lawyers prepare post-trial motions in advance of his June 4 sentencing, he hopes the Jewish community at large will support him. Rosenthal, who dropped out of college in 1967, had a brief stint as a stock broker before becoming interested in marijuana cultivation and helping launch High Times. His books on growing marijuana have sold at least a million copies, and he and Klein — married for 15 years — now operate Quick Trading, a home-based publishing business offering Rosenthal titles such as ‘The Big Book of Buds’ and ‘Marijuana Law: Don’t Get Busted.'”

    Feds Bust Israeli-U.S. Money Laundering Ring,
    by Anthony M. DeStefano, Newsday, April 1, 2003
    “Federal investigators said yesterday they broke up a ring of U.S. and Israeli nationals suspected of laundering millions of dollars in proceeds from trafficking in the drug Ecstasy. A total of 17 people, as well as one Florida company, face charges in the probe, which involved coordination between federal and Israeli law enforcement agencies in the last year. Among those arrested was Natan Banda, the alleged ringleader of the money-laundering network, which federal agents believe has systematically handled tens of millions of dollars in narcotics proceeds. Banda has U.S. and Israeli citizenship and maintains homes in Williamsburg and upstate Monroe, according to the affidavit for the arrest warrant unsealed yesterday. Others charged include the brothers Zakay and Ezra Sasson, identified in the affidavit as being residents of Florida and citizens of the United States, Venezuela and Israel. The Sasson brothers are listed as officers of National Electronics, Inc., a Florida company that sells consumer electronics in Central and South America, according to the affidavit. Federal investigators allege that the Sasson brothers arranged to launder millions of dollars for Banda.”

    15 Are Accused of Involvement in a Multinational Drug Ring,
    by Andy Newman, New York Times, April 1, 2003
    “Federal prosecutors in Brooklyn said yesterday that they had broken up a multinational ring that laundered tens of millions of dollars in proceeds from the sale of cocaine and ecstasy. Fifteen men were arrested yesterday in New York, Miami, Houston and Israel, prosecutors said. Court papers describe an import-export operation with branches in the Netherlands, Colombia, Florida and Texas, and Swiss bank accounts swollen with cash smuggled in and out of the United States in parcels labeled ‘jewelry.’ The operation was run by Natan Banda, 31, who lives in Brooklyn and in Kiryas Joel, a Hasidic community in Rockland County, N.Y., according to a complaint unsealed yesterday. Drug traffickers would call Mr. Banda on one of two cellphones designated the blue phone and the red phone and arrange to give him money in amounts of hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars, which he would have converted into numerous small-denomination checks, the court papers say. Mr. Banda and several others were arraigned yesterday in United States District Court in Brooklyn before Magistrate Robert Levy on charges of money-laundering and conspiracy to distribute drugs. The ring members enthusiastically discussed business with one another by telephone, the complaint says. For instance, last June, Mr. Banda received a call from Nathan Weiss, who also was arrested yesterday, asking if certain deposits had cleared. When Mr. Banda confirmed that they had, Mr. Weiss responded, ‘Praise the Lord!, It’s a great thing!’ the complaint says … The complaint says that Mr. Banda became aware that he was being followed by federal agents and called the local branch of Shomrim, a civilian group that patrols Brooklyn’s Hasidic neighborhoods, to complain. He asked the Shomrim official to find out what agency used a car that was following him, but the official declined, the complaint states.”

    Stories of Recovery. The Debilitating Stigma Behind Addiction,
    by Kim Schneiderman, Jewish Times, APRIL 04, 2003
    “Jerry Sutton often surprises people when he introduces himself as a recovering alcoholic. According to the old Yiddish expression “a shicker is a goy” (a drunk is a non-Jew), he isn’t supposed to exist. But Mr. Sutton, executive director of the House of Hope, certainly does, as do countless other Jewish addicts. Mr. Sutton’s experience reflects the historical attitude toward addiction in the Jewish community: denial. Denial is a dangerous word in the addiction vernacular. Addicts in denial have been known to succumb to a host of risky behaviors, all the while insisting they don’t have a problem. Just as addicts use denial to ward off feelings of guilt, anxiety and shame, many believe the Jewish people are in denial about the prevalence of addiction, with similar destructive results … Kim Friner, director of Jewish Addiction Services, spends a great deal of time debunking myths about Jews and addictions. Among them, that Jews are immune to chemical dependency due to such factors as the solidarity of the Jewish community, the ritual use of wine, a moral emphasis on sobriety and fear of engaging in attention-getting behaviors that could provoke anti-Semitism. Having helped literally hundreds of recovering addicts in her 20-year career both within and outside of the Jewish community, she knows all too well that addiction does not discriminate. ‘Addiction is a disease and a certain percentage are going to develop the disease just like a certain percentage are going to develop cancer,’ said Ms. Friner, who cringes every time she hears the old Yiddish expression ‘a shicker is a goy.’ A 2001 JACS study set out to describe the demographics of Jews in recovery programs predominantly in the Northeast. The results indicated that Jews not only suffered from alcoholism and other drug addictions, but also disproved assumptions that chemically dependent Jews were somehow less educated, poorer and unaffiliated with the religion or the Jewish community. The study also showed that alcohol was the drug of choice among chemically dependent Jews, followed by sedatives and painkillers. Though not necessarily reflected in the study, a 1986 article in Hadassah Magazine quoted the head of an outpatient addiction program in New York as saying that crack cocaine had become popular among Jewish urban professionals in the 25-40 age group … Denial may explain why dozens of Baltimore-area churches offer 12-step programs, but comparatively few Jewish organizations do. Baltimore Hebrew Congregation (Alcoholics Anonymous and Alanon), Shaarei Zion B’nai Jacob (JACS) and Suburban Orthodox (Narcotics Anonymous) are the only Jewish organizations to host 12-step meetings … Despite the lack of 12-step meetings, Susan Kurlander, director of prevention services at Jewish Addiction Services, reports being flooded with calls from schools and organizations for drug and alcohol education services … Why the denial? Abbey Millhauser, who has run groups for Jewish women, suggests the stigma associated with chemical dependency conflicts with the idealism and cultural stereotypes associated with being Jewish … Marc Rosenbluth, executive director of Mid-Atlantic JACS, argued that stigmatization and denial also applies to other addictions such as gambling and overeating, which are rampant in the Jewish community. Whatever the dependence, stigma against addiction is dangerous because it can impede both diagnosis and treatment.”

    Israelis at center of ecstasy drug trade,
    by Nathan Guttman, Haaretz (Israel), April 6, 2003
    “Israel is at the center of international trade in the drug ecstasy, according to a document published last week by the U.S. State Department. In recent years, organized crime in Israel, some with links to criminal organizations in Russia, have come to control the distribution of the drug in Europe, according to a Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs document. The same document also points out that Israeli criminal groups have a hand in the distribution of ecstasy in North America. During 2000, 80 percent of the ecstasy seized in North America originated in the Netherlands, which is the largest production center, along with Belgium and Poland. The State Department is certain that Israeli organizations are linked to the laboratories in the Netherlands and are responsible for the worldwide distribution. ‘Israeli drug distribution organizations are currently the main source for distribution of the drug to groups inside the U.S., to smuggling through express mail services, through couriers on commercial flights and, recently, through air cargo,’ states the report.”



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