Pubdate: Thu, 22 Nov 2001
Source: Jerusalem Post (Israel)
Copyright: 2001,sThe Jerusalem Post
Author: Allison Kaplan Sommer


TEL AVIV  - German police on Tuesday arrested two Israelis unloading a 
truck that contained 1.5 million Ecstasy pills, capping a long drug 
investigation by German, Dutch, Australian, and Israeli police into 
international Ecstasy trafficking by Israelis.

Police said the infiltration of the drug ring represents the largest and 
most sweeping action in recent history against international Ecstasy 
trafficking, in which Israelis are known to be deeply involved.

German detectives encountered the suspects unloading a truck with Dutch 
license plates near Hamburg Port. A search turned up the pills hidden in 
containers of artificial flowers.

The two Israeli suspects, Uzi Gutman, 55, from Elkana, and Yosef 
Raphaelovitz, 41, from Jerusalem, were arrested, in addition to their Dutch 

At the same time, Australian police arrested Elyakim Ya'acov al- Sheikh, 
37, believed to be a major force in international drug trafficking.

Sheikh, a former Kiryat Bialik resident, was convicted of drug violations 
in France and sentenced to 12 years in prison, and was released three years 
ago. He is married to a Dutch citizen, and resides in Holland, from where 
it is suspected he headquarters his activities in the Ecstasy trade, 
exporting to other countries in Western Europe, as well as the US and 

According to police, Rafaelowitz and Gutman flew to Switzerland early 
Tuesday morning and continued to Germany. Their journey was tracked by 
international police forces, and they were followed until they were caught 
with the drugs in Hamburg. It is believed that the ultimate destination for 
the pills was Sheikh in Australia.

In Holland, Dror Pachima, 24, of Ashdod was arrested as another suspected 
member of the group involved in the deal. Pachima is a fugitive, having 
fled Israel 1999 when he was sought for police questioning.

Arrests of suspected Ecstasy ring members took place in Israel as well. 
Yesterday, Tel Aviv detectives arrested Ronen Krosenoverski, 37, of Bat 
Yam, Yitzhak Tamir, 33, of Netanya, Menachem Mendel Cohen, 41, of 
Jerusalem, Gregory Gabrielov, 27, of Bat Yam, and Zvi Fogel, 47, of Tel 
Aviv. The five men are suspected of planning drug trafficking and money 
laundering activities. Last night they were brought to court for an 
extension of their remand.
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