Thomas W. Raffanello, The Special Agent in Charge of the DEA Miami Field Division, in conjunction with Guy Lewis, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and Edward Stubbs, the Acting U.S. Marshal for the Southern District of Florida announce the arrival this weekend in Miami, Florida of two preeminent MDMA traffickers, Meir BEN DAVID and Josef LEVI. Both men were extradited from Israel this week as a result of being charged by indictment in October 2000 in Miami for Conspiracy to Import MDMA and Possession with Intent to Distribute MDMA into the Southern District of Florida. As a result of this indictment, both men have been in custody in Israel since August 2001. On June 27, 2002, the Israeli Government executed a Surrender Order authorizing the extradition of both men to South Florida for prosecution. This marks the first extradition of any Israeli citizen to the United States for a drug crime.
Special Agent in Charge Raffanello stated, "Ben David and Levi are textbook examples of the type of major international drug traffickers the DEA targets worldwide. DEA would like to commend the Israeli Government for their cooperation and tireless efforts in bringing these two men to justice."
The DEA's Fort Lauderdale office initiated this investigation in 1998. The investigation revealed that from the Spring of 1998 until mid 1999, BEN DAVID and LEVI were part of an Israeli Organized Crime Syndicate responsible for smuggling large quantities of MDMA from Europe into the United States. Two of the primary targets of the investigation included BEN-DAVID and LEVI. BEN-DAVID, the leader of the organization in South Florida, coordinated shipments of MDMA from Europe into the United States using body couriers and parcel couriers. LEVI assisted the organization by distributing MDMA at various nightclubs throughout South Florida as well as to other Israeli MDMA traffickers.
During the course of the investigation, hundreds of kilograms of MDMA were documented as being imported into the United States by this organization. Approximately 200,000 MDMA tablets were seized in South Florida. Additionally, monetary seizures totaled approximately $400,000 in U.S. Currency. A total of 40 persons have been indicted in this investigation, and 34 of them have been arrested so far.
"The DEA is known for going after large scale trafficking organizations. To capture and actually bring two major Israeli ecstasy traffickers to the United States is a tremendous victory," said Administrator Asa Hutchinson. "Our resolve to bring traffickers to justice doesn't stop at the border."
An Initial Appearance in Federal Magistrate's court is anticipated for BEN DAVID and LEVI on Monday, July 29, 2002 at 1:30PM at the U.S. District Courthouse in downtown Miami.
DEA Public Information Officers will be available for on-camera interviews in English and Spanish with the media at the DEA Miami Office following the Monday court appearance for both defendants. The DEA Miami office is located at 8400 NW 53 Street, Miami, Florida.
DEA video and photographic coverage of the extradition will be made available. You will be notified via the Associated Press for time and location of distribution. Please monitor the Associated Press for this information.