An Israeli described by US authorities as one of the world's biggest drug traffickers pleaded guilty on Tuesday to federal charges of conspiring to import thousands of ecstasy pills into the US.
The plea by Zeev Rosenstein, also known as "The Fat Man" and purportedly one of Israel's top organized crime figures, comes just a week before his trial was scheduled to begin.
Rosenstein, 52, was sentenced by US District Judge William Dimitrouleas to 12 years in prison, a sentence that was to be served in Israel as part of the deal.
Rosenstein was extradited from Israel in March last year to face a US grand jury indictment charging him with conspiring to distribute more than 850,000 pills of the synthetic drug MDMA, more commonly known as ecstasy.
The charges carried a maximum possible sentence of 40 years in prison and US$2 million in fines.
The plea deal calls for Rosenstein to pay a US$17,500 fine but includes no forfeiture of property, which is common in major federal drug cases.
He pleaded guilty to two drug trafficking conspiracy counts.
The US Drug Enforcement Administration included Rosenstein on its list of the 44 biggest global drug traffickers. Administration officials claimed his illicit network spanned four continents and used smugglers from Latin America to bring the drugs into the US.
Miami US Attorney Alexander Acosta said Rosenstein's organization shipped more than 1 million ecstasy pills in total to the US, with Rosenstein acting as a key financier and decision-maker.
Administration official Karen Tandy labeled him "the most infamous criminal in Israel."
"The conviction of Rosenstein is the final chapter in an unprecedented joint effort between the United States and Israel," Acosta said.
Rosenstein also reached a separate agreement with the Israeli government to plead guilty to an attempted 2001 murder conspiracy involving one of his rivals in that country, said Rosenstein attorney Roy Black.
That agreement calls for a three-year prison term to be served concurrently with the US prison sentence. The killing was never carried out.
There have been at least seven attempts by others to kill Rosenstein, including a December 2003 bomb attack in Tel Aviv that killed three people and injured 18 others but left him unscathed.
Dimitrouleas agreed to recommend that Rosenstein be given credit for the time he has served in jail since Nov. 8, 2004, when he was first arrested in Israel.
Ultimately Rosenstein will likely serve just over five additional years behind bars, Black said.
"I assume he will very promptly be taken to Israel," Black said.
OFF BORDER ISLAND: The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel wearing a life jacket and leaving behind his shoes, indicating an intentional move, Seoul said North Korean soldiers shot dead a suspected South Korean defector at sea and burned his body as a COVID-19 precaution after he was interrogated in the water over several hours, Seoul military officials said yesterday. It is the first killing of a South Korean citizen by North Korean forces for a decade, and comes with Pyongyang at high alert over the COVID-19 pandemic and inter-Korean relations at a standstill. The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel near the western border island of Yeonpyeong on Monday, the official said. More than 24 hours later, North Korean forces located him in their waters and
ACADEMIC FREEDOM: One professor told her students to submit anonymized papers and not to record any online classes. Some US schools have announced similar steps Students at Oxford University specializing in the study of China are being asked to submit some papers anonymously to protect them from the possibility of retribution under the sweeping new security law introduced three months ago in Hong Kong. The anonymity ruling is to be applied in classes, and group tutorials are to be replaced by one-to-ones. Students are also to be warned that it will be viewed as a disciplinary offence if they tape classes or share them with outside groups. The Hong Kong National Security Law was imposed on June 30 by Beijing after more than a year of pro-democracy
The scarcity of commercial flights landing at Sydney Airport has been a disaster for airlines and workers, but for hobby pilots the COVID-19 pandemic has provided the opportunity of a lifetime. The quieter-than-usual runways mean that private pilots have been given the chance to land at the international airport for the first time. When Sydney Flight College club captain Tim Lindley put out a call, he received an overwhelming response. He eventually organized for 14 light aircraft to fly into Sydney airport on Sunday. “For a lot of the pilots involved, including myself, it was a childhood dream to land in a big
Japan’s government yesterday urged people to seek help if they were struggling to cope, following Sunday’s death of the popular actress and Miss Sherlock star Yuko Takeuchi, 40. News of her death shocked the nation and follows other recent cases of Japanese celebrities taking their lives, with figures showing a recent rise in suicides. Takeuchi was a household name in Japan and had given birth to her second child in January. Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato did not mention a particular case, but said that some people were struggling to cope during the COVID-19 pandemic. “There has been an uptick in the number