Russian mafia finds a home in promised land

Jerusalem - The arrest of two private eyes in Tel Aviv for allegedly paying $100,000 (£62,500) on behalf of Russian gangsters for the murder of a businessman who owed them money is the first sign that the Russian mafia, which has used Israel as a meeting-place and staging post, has started to operate here, writes Patrick Cockburn.

Amir Ben-Asher and Yaacov Bak, both former army officers, are accused of being hired by a former Israeli policeman now living in Russia to arrange for the killing of three Russian businessmen who now live in Israel. A bonus was promised after the first murder was carried out.

In recent years Israel has been an important transit point for the Russian mafia, according to police.

Not only are there some 600,000 Russian Jews in the country but Israeli currency laws are lax enough to allow immigrants to bring in money safely.

Starting in the summer of 1993, the mafia has held a series of meetings here, the first at the Tel Aviv Hilton.

The so-called Organizatsiya grew up in the 1970s and 1980s in the Soviet Union.

Many gangsters later emigrated to New York, claiming to be Jews, although this was true of only one third, police say.

With about 300 members outside Russia, their extreme violence enabled them to gain control of part of the drug trade and other rackets, as well as making vast profits in Russia after the break-up of the Soviet Union.

At first meetings were held in Cyprus but this was considered unsafe and half a dozen senior mafia members came to live in Israel.

Last year a ton of cocaine was intercepted as it left St Petersburg for Israel, probably on its way to Western Europe.

Until the case of Mr Ben-Asher and Mr Bak, however, the Russian mafia was careful not to carry out crimes in Israel itself. According to the police, the two private detectives gave the criminal they hired to carry out the killing - he later turned state's evidence - a pistol with a silencer as well as photographs of the intended victims whom they were watching.

A search by the police of the detectives' apartments in Tel Aviv revealed seven pistols, one with a silencer, and two grenades.

Neither man is co-operating with the police but both were arrested last year in connection with a wire-tapping scandal involving Ma'ariv newspaper.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Telesales / Telemarketing Executive - OTE £30k / £35k plus

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises provid...

Austen Lloyd: Commercial Property Solicitor - Exeter

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: EXETER - A great new opportunity with real pot...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Private Client Solicitor - Exeter

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: EXETER - An outstanding senior opportunity for...

Sauce Recruitment: Retail Planning Manager - Home Entertainment UK

salary equal to £40K pro-rata: Sauce Recruitment: Are you available to start a...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower