Suspected Israeli crime lord Itzhak Abergil
pleaded guilty in the United States on Monday to being part of a racketeering enterprise that distributed Ecstasy and whose members killed a man for stealing a large drug shipment, a defense attorney said.
Abergil, 43, entered his plea in a Los Angeles federal courtroom, defense attorney Mark Werksman said. As part of a plea agreement, Werksman said Abergil will get a 10-year sentence. Sentencing is set for May 21.
In effect, Abergil is to serve eight and a half years in prison, figuring in the length of his detention in the US. His lawyers are to petition the court to have him serve the time in Israel.
“The Israeli and US governments have their boots on his neck with these cases and if he didn’t enter into an agreement like this he faced the risk of being obliterated and getting a life sentence,” said Werksman, who added the label that his client is a crime boss is an exaggeration.
Abergil was arrested in 2008 in Israel after he was named in an indictment that alleged murder and international drug trafficking. He was extradited to the US in 2011 along with his brother, Meir Abergil, who entered a plea deal that year and was sentenced to three years in prison.
Prosecutors believe Abergil was one of the largest importers of narcotics into the United States. They said his family worked with another drug syndicate, the Jerusalem Network, as well as a Los Angeles gang to traffic Ecstasy.
Federal agents intercepted approximately 100,000 pills of Ecstasy at hubs in the Midwest that were destined for distribution in Southern California. The street price for the drugs was about $2 million.
Abergil was also charged with racketeering conspiracy to murder Sami Atias, who was gunned down execution style in 2003 in Sherman Oaks, California. During his guilty plea, Abergil said Atias was killed for interfering in a drug deal and theft.
Drug trafficking charges that have been ascribed to him in Belgium have also been appended to the case.
"This a good deal," Abergil's lawyers in Israel, Sharon Nahari and Yoram Sheftel, said.