Five people reputedly involved in one of Israel’s most powerful organized crime families appeared in federal court in Los Angeles yesterday to face drug trafficking and racketeering charges.
Itzhak and Meir Abergil, along with three other individuals, pleaded not guilty to charges related to their alleged roles in a massive Los Angeles-based Ecstasy ring described in a 2008 indictment. They were extradited from Israel and, escorted by U.S. marshals, arrived in the U.S. late Wednesday.
The Abergils and several associates were arrested in Israel in 2008 after being indicted by a federal grand jury in Los Angeles. An Israeli court ruled the men “extraditable” in July 2009, but they appealed. A court rejected their petition last month, paving the way for their extraditions.
The men will remain in custody at the Metropolitan Detention Center while they await trial. No bonds were set for any of the individuals because they were seen as a flight risk.
Itzhak Abergil, Meir Abergil, Sasson Barashy, Moshe Malul and Israel Ozifa were in shackles when they appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Ralph Zarefsky. Each individual required the assistance of a Hebrew translator.
Zarefsky assigned the case to U.S. District Judge Christina Snyder. No date has been set for the trial, which U.S. attorneys estimated would last about two months.
If convicted, the men could face life in prison. They would serve their sentences in Israel under the U.S. extradition treaty.
Israel for decades had refused to extradite its citizens. But the country amended its laws in 1999 to grant extradition requests to nations that promised to return defendants who are convicted abroad to Israel to serve their sentences.
Douglas McNabb and other members of the firm practice and write extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, Interpol Litigation, International Extradition and OFAC Litigation.
The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or at one of the offices listed above.