(SBU) Given the volume of travel and trade between the United
States and Israel, it is not surprising that Israeli OC has also
gained a foothold in America. Over the last decade, media reports
have detailed a number of high-profile cases involving Israeli OC,
ranging from large-scale drug deals to murder. The ongoing Central
District of California grand jury investigation against the Abergil
family, where a RICO conspiracy case was initiated in December 2007,
best demonstrates the full extent of such criminal activity.
Investigators have linked Yitzhak Abergil and his entire network to
crimes of "embezzlement, extortion, kidnapping, and money
laundering." Yitzhak Abergil is currently under arrest in Israel
and facing extradition for related charges linking him to the murder
of Israeli drug dealer Samy Attias on U.S. soil.
(SBU) As part of an ongoing effort to track Israeli OC through
media reports and police sources, Post so far has identified 16
families and 78 related individuals who are at the center of Israeli
organized criminal activity. The consular section has revoked
several visas for those who have been convicted of crimes in Israel,
but many OC figures have no prior criminal convictions and carry no
visa ineligibilities. As a result, many hold valid nonimmigrant
visas to the United States and have traveled freely or attempted to
travel for a variety of purposes.
(SBU) In March 2009, Post received information from law
enforcement authorities that convicted criminal and member of the
Abergil organization, Mordechai Yair Hasin, along with his pregnant
wife and child, was intending to flee Israel for Los Angeles on
valid tourist visas. Hasin's visa was revoked based on his
conviction, as were his family's visas after they were determined to
be intending immigrants.
(SBU) As in the Hasin case, Post is using every available tool
to limit OC travel to the United States, but such efforts are not
always successful. In June 2008, Post issued Adam Abitbul a valid
tourist visa. Abitbul had no prior criminal convictions, and
carried no visa ineligibilities. Several months later, Post
received information from the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD)
that he had traveled to the United States to carry out a hit.
Abitbul returned to Israel prematurely for his father's funeral, at
which time Post revoked his visa. (Post can only revoke the visas of
Israeli citizens while in country.) In a similar case, in October
2008 Post issued Moshe Bar Muha a tourist visa; he claimed to be
traveling for medical treatment. Post subsequently received
information from the LAPD that Bar Muha is in fact the brother of
Itzik Bar Muha of the Jerusalem Gang (see above) and a convicted
(SBU) As recently as March 2009, Zvika Ben Shabat, Yaacov
Avitan, and Tzuri Rokah requested visas to attend a
"security-related convention" in Las Vegas. According to local
media reports, all three had involvement with OC. Post asked the
applicants to provide police reports for any criminal records in
Israel, but without such evidence there is no immediate
ineligibility for links to OC. Luckily, all three have so far
failed to return for continued adjudication of their applications.
Nevertheless, it is fair to assume that many known OC figures hold
valid tourist visas to the United States and travel freely.
Comment: Israeli OC Slipping Through the Consular Cracks
(SBU) Given the growing reach and lethal methods of Israeli OC,
blocking the travel of known OC figures to the United States is a
matter of great concern to Post. Through collaboration with Israeli
and U.S. law enforcement authorities, Post has developed an
extensive database and placed lookouts for OC figures and their foot
soldiers. Nevertheless, the above visa cases demonstrate the
challenges that have arisen since the termination of the Visas Shark
in September 2008. Unlike OC groups from the former Soviet Union,
Italy, China, and Central America, application of INA 212(a)(3)(A)(ii)
against Israeli OC is not specifically authorized
per Foreign Affairs Manual 40.31 N5.3. As such, Israelis who are
known to work for or belong to OC families are not automatically
ineligible for travel to the United States.
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