News and Press Releases

Israeli Organized Crime Figure Pleads Guilty in U.S. to Narcotics and Racketeering Offenses, Including Murder

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 7, 2012

Itzhak Abergil, 43, a citizen of Israel, today pleaded guilty in United States District Court to charges including racketeering conspiracy to commit extortion and murder and conspiracy to import ecstasy into the United States. Israel Ozifa, 52, a citizen of Israel, today pleaded guilty to conspiracy to import ecstasy into the United States. The guilty pleas were announced today by United States Attorney André Birotte Jr., whose office is prosecuting the case.

Abergil and Ozifa were charged in July 2008 in a 77 page federal grand jury indictment in the Central District of California with federal racketeering charges including conspiracy to import ecstasy, a popular and powerful “club drug,” into the United States from Belgium. Agents from the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency intercepted approximately 100,000 pills of ecstasy at hubs in the Midwest that were being transshipped for ultimate distribution in Southern California. The street price for the drugs approached $2 million. At the time of the shipment, Abergil, Ozifa, and their co-conspirators were under investigation by Belgian law enforcement authorities. According to the indictment, Abergil was the leader of the Abergil crime family and used the power and influence of the Abergil family to conduct criminal activities in Israel and around the world.

Abergil was also charged with racketeering conspiracy to extort repayment of usurious loans to individuals in the United States and with racketeering conspiracy to murder Sami Atias. Atias was gunned down, execution style, in August 2003 in Sherman Oaks, California. Abergil admitted during his guilty plea hearing that Atias was killed for interfering with a drug deal in which Abergil and others were involved.

Earlier this year, another co-defendant, Meir Abergil, the brother of Itzhak Abergil, who is 58 and also a citizen of Israel, was convicted in federal court of one count of extortion for making threats against individuals in the United States and Israel in an effort to collect $1,350,000. On August 22, 2011, Meir Abergil was sentenced to thirty-six months custody, including time served previously in Israel, and he was subsequently returned to Israel.

Itzhak Abergil, Ozifa and Meir Abergil were all extradited in January 2011 to the United States from Israel. The January 2011 extradition was the first of its kind under Israel’s racketeering law, a law that parallels the United States federal racketeering statute known as RICO, which is designed to combat organized crime.

The investigation was led by the United States Drug Enforcement Administration and the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency, with the assistance of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the United States Internal Revenue Service. The Los Angeles Police Department provided additional assistance.

Abergil is scheduled to be sentenced before Federal District Court Judge Christina A. Snyder on May 21, 2012, at 12:00 p.m., and Ozifa is scheduled to be sentenced before Judge Snyder on May 23, 2012, at 12:30 p.m.

Co-defendant Moshe Malul is scheduled for trial on September 25, 2012 in front of Judge Snyder on charges of racketeering and murder based on Malul's alleged hiring of members of the Vineland Boys street gang to kill Atias in retaliation for Atias stealing ecstasy that belonged to Malul and others. Co-Defendant Sasson Barashy is scheduled for trial on November 27, 2012 in front of Federal Judge Synder on charges of racketeering, extortion and money laundering.

An indictment only contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent until proven guilty in court.

Co-defendants Yoram El-Al and Luis Sandoval are fugitives.

DEFENDANTS WHO PLEADED GUILTY TODAY:

Itzhak Abergil:
Age: 43
Citizen of Israel
Charges/Statutory Maximum Sentences
Racketeering Conspiracy, including Extortion
20 Year Maximum Sentence
Racketeering Conspiracy, Including Conspiracy to Commit Murder
Lifetime Maximum Sentence
Conspiracy to Import Mdma (“ecstasy”) into the United States
20 Year Maximum Sentence

Israel Ozifa:
Age: 52
Citizen of Israel
Charge/Statutory Maximum Sentence
Conspiracy to Import Mdma (“ecstasy”) into the United States
20 Year Maximum Sentence

Release No. 12-059

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