Cable: Israeli organized crime a concern

Dec. 2, 2010 at 9:19 PM
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TEL AVIV, Israel, Dec. 2 (UPI) -- U.S. diplomats worried about Israeli organized crime's rise and wanted to stop it from expanding into the United States, a leaked U.S. cable indicated Thursday.

"Organized crime has longstanding roots in Israel, but in recent years there has been a sharp increase in the reach and impact of OC networks," U.S. Ambassador to Israel James Cunningham said in a May 9, 2009, cable to the U.S. State Department obtained by WikiLeaks and published on its Web site.

"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," said the cable titled, "Israel, a promised land for organized crime?"

And because of Israeli organized crime's "lethal methods" -- including "violent acts on each other with little regard for innocent bystanders" -- "blocking the travel of known organized crime figures to the United States is a matter of great concern," Cuningham's cable said.

To do this, the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv developed an "extensive database and placed lookouts for OC figures and their foot soldiers," the cable said.

But the embassy's attempts to prevent criminals from reaching the United States were not always successful, the cable said, because many Israeli crime family operatives hold foreign passports from countries that let them "move freely in European countries" and often enter the United States through the visa waiver program.

The visa waiver program lets citizens of specific countries travel to the United States for tourism or business for up to 90 days without having to get a visa.

The cable said organized crime's "profit motive" is so strong it bridges the Israeli-Arab divide, The Jerusalem Post reported.

"Arab and Jewish Israeli criminals routinely cooperate and form alliances to expand control of lucrative drug, car theft and extortion rackets," the cable said.

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