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Joined: 08 Mar 2006
|Posted: Mon Sep 25, 2006 2:39 pm Post subject: The Jerusalem Group.
|The first acknowledgement that an Israeli crime syndicate was known to be operating in Los Angeles came as early as the mid-70s. By 1980 the LAPD, California State investigators and the FBI all had files open on selected targets. All began to work in concert with key members of Israel's parliament exchanging intelligence which gave the first intimation that something big was in the works. One of those working the operation from the Israeli side was current Israeli President Ehud Olmert.
Olmert noted in a document sent to the U.S., known as the "Eleven report," that Israel noted a sizeable number of crooks fleeing Israeli starting about 1975. Olmert noted the criminals began to fan out to every major European city some to the U.S., on the order of 11 biggies who called the shots from Israel. It was noted that one of the biggies or 11 made several trips to Los Angeles between 1975 and 1979. The California State Department of Justice produced a report detailing the origins of the Israeli mob and its ties to its U.S., Italian counterpart.
The Israeli Mob in Los Angeles.
The Los Angeles chapter of the Israeli mafia first became active in 1975, in the border town of Calexico. Members set up a number of import houses there, which were used as a cover for smuggling a variety of things, including hashish and cocaine. The group also engaged in false bankruptcies and arson for profit. The expansion of the group saw them expand there operation across the border into Los Angeles where from a building on South Broadway in the Fairfax district they began operating a legitimate front business which sold high tech electronic goods.
This remains a staple of the Los Angeles Israeli group.
In addition to drug smuggling, several reports surfaced charging the Israeli's with smuggling millions of dollars worth of sophisticated military style weaponry into Mexico, South America and Lebanon. On the surface the group engaged in traditional organized crime activities such as extortion, arson, prostitution and murder but underneath many investigators suspected far more complex dealings.
Very little headway was made cracking the inner-sanctum of the Israeli network until the gruesome dismemberment killings of Esther and Eli Ruven. The Egyptian born Sephardic Jewish couple were well known among the close knit jews from Bantyam, Israel who settled in North Hollywood. Eli Ruven reportedly had ties to the Israeli mob dating back several years and counted Joseph Zakaria a known Israeli mobster, as his benefactor.
The Ruvens borrowed significant amounts of money from Zakaria and began selling cocaine. The operation proved very profitable until Eli developed a $40,000 a month habit. Soon the pair began to break away from Zakaria a fatal mistake for certain. Zakaria angered an suspicious of the Ruvens arranged a meeting at the Bonventure Hotel in room 2419. The meeting quickly turned sour and six shots rang out killing the Ruvens instantly. Zakaria assisted by Yehuda Avital and Eliahu Komerchero "both criminals with records in Israeli," dismembered the Ruvens and dumped them in a dumpster.
The resulting firestorm led to shocking revelations the first being that the Israeli network in Los Angeles numbered a many as 250 people. Second there were few people interested in investigating their operation. The Los Angeles went so far as to deny the existance of an Israeli crime syndicate in Los Angeles. Instead the paper boldly attributed the findings of the FBI to several independent operators. From Israel Knesset member and resident organized crime specialist Elhud Olmert promised to devulge information prevalent to the operation but never followed through.
Investigations holding promise simply died as it became clear both U.S., and Israeli officials wished to keep the lid on. "Don't embarrass our friend Israel because of a few bad apples." The policy resulted in a relatively quiet trial which two years after the Ruven murders delivered a guilty verdict against Zakaria and Avital the accussed triggerman and butcher. Zakaria "2nd degree murder in the case of Esther Ruven," and Avital were convicted and sentenced to 21 years 4 months and 4 years in prison. As for Komerchero, he pled guilty to charges in relation to the Ruven's murders, testified on behalf of the prosecution, was depported only to return to Los Angeles where he was caught in the mid 80s trafficking drugs.
Ties with local Palestinian operation.
Conventional wisdom says Jews and Palestinians are mortal enemies. By and large this is true except when applied to criminal dealings. As noted above, investigators noted the Israeli criminals headquartered in Calexico were involved in buying a selling records to a number of groups around the globe. The most curious of their dealings just might have been the transfers of military weaponry to Lebanese groups. The acknowledged leader of a Palestinian operation in Los Angeles was a clean shaven tough known as Joe McClean. McClean was in reality Hovsep Mikaelian who coincidentally made his home in North Hollywood. Mikaelian and his brother Hrant, involved themselves in a number of criminal ventures including drug smuggling, porn, tax fraud, extortion, murder and illicit fuel sales.
They are best remembered for their role in the Wonderland murders and their ties to Abdel Gharib Nasrallah aka Eddie Nash. Nasrallah immigrated to the U.S., in the 1950s and landed in Los Angeles where he opened several tony restaurants and clubs in the Hollywood area. Nasrallah became a household name when his drug operation orchastrated the murders of four people in a Laurel Canyon drug house on Wonderland Avenue. Remarkable for its ties to Hollywood's semi-elite and porns reigning king John Holmes, and the lengthy unsuccessful attempts to prosecute those involved.
Nash ditched and dodged the efforts of local and federal prosecutors for years his understudy or associate Mikaelian wasn't quite as lucky. Mikaelian was convicted of fuel excise tax evasion, narcotics trafficking and wire fraud. The legal cocktail earned him a 14 year prison term handed down in 1998. Nash himself entered a guilty plea in connection with Laurel Canyon murders in 2001 and received 34 months in prison. Little effort was expended in stating the obvious ties between Nash's Palestinian operation and the Israeli mob.
Ties that bind. Russian, Palestinian and Armenian
Almost in passing, the ties between the Israeli and Palestinian operations were revealed. In November 1991, Russian jew Oleg (Alex) Yasko the acknowledged architect of the Los Angeles gas tax scam was sentenced to 10 years in prison and ordered to pay $ 1.3 million in restitution to the government. What Yasko and five co-defendants did was accomplish the same feat Michael Franzese and his Russian co-conspirators did in New York and Florida before landing in Los Angeles. At the time of the Yasko case, Franzese was serving time on fuel charges lodged against him which will be detailed in another section.
The enuring investigation led to the breakup of Mikaelian's Armenian ring and its ties to Nasrallah's Palestinian group and the Keroles Morrocan operation. Mikaelian tore a page from the Iorizzo/Franzese book evading the taxes on 750,000 bbls of jet fuel. With the federal tax of 42 cents per gallon pockted, Mikaelian profited to the tune of $350,000. Not a tremendous amount when compared to the Franzese operation and falling far short of the estimated $1.3 million the Yasko operation netted.
Youssef Kamel Keroles the owner of a San Pedro restaurant was ordered to pay the IRS $2 million in federal and state funds he pilfered through a cocktailing operation involving diesel fuel. In a move detailed extensively in the Franzese post, Mikaelian and Keroles established a burn or breakout company most commonly referred to as a shell company to purchase fuel. Over a three month period First and Last Distributors Inc., was used to purchase $ 8 million worth of fuel. The company later changed its name to Hiway Enterprises and stole another $ 5 million worth of fuel in a joint venture with Dana P. Brewer's Petroglobe Inc.
In both cases Keroles was instrumental in all facets of the caper. He was later sentenced to serve 27 months in prison with three years supervised release and ordered to pay a $ 45,000 fine and $864,315 in restitution. A third defendant in the Petroglobe case Peter Nudo was also sentenced on charges of obstructing justice and impeding the Internal Revenue Service.
Those from the Mikaelian operation indicted were;
Hovsop "Mike or Joe" Mikaelian - The then 49 year old self-described Godfather of the Armenian Mafia. aka Eliseo Guevara
Hampartsoum Hgop Kouroumlian
- A 300 lb enforcer
Those charged as part of the Keroles ring were;
Youssef Kamel Keroles - The ring leader and mastermind.
Emadeldin Mohamed Abdelraouf
The conviction of such bigshots led to a brief period of strife which saw an increase in brazen crimes such as the murder of a Glendale travel agent. Garen Zakarian and his sister Anait were charged with conspiracy in the murder of Benita Mikaelian who ran a firm which competed with the Zakarian's business. Garen Zakarian ties to the Armenian mafia surfaced during a trial which concluded with his being sentenced to 85 years in prison.
The Armenian mafia kept pace with the Carole Little crimes and the murder of Hakop Antonyan. Karapet Demirdzhyan was convicted in the crimes which were part of a takeover plot aimed at the $20 billion Southern California garmet industry.
In a bold move Arshak Kazarian, Sahak Mazmanyan, Rafael Kazaryants and Panos Zhamkochyan were charged with conspiring to kill a federal agent in connection with the pending fraud trial of Armenian mafia bigshot Robert Kazarian in 1997.
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