Two Israelis extradited to U.S. on ecstasy smuggling charges
By reuters – Monday, July 29, 2002
MIAMI – Two Israelis described as major smugglers of the party drug ecstasy have been extradited by Israel to the United States to face drug-trafficking charges, U.S. officials said on Friday.
Meir Ben David and Josef Levi were indicted in October 2000 on charges of possession and conspiracy to import MDMA, or ecstasy, into the United States. U.S. officials said it was the first time Israeli citizens had been extradited to the United States to face drug charges.
Officials said the two were part of an Israeli-organized crime syndicate that used couriers to smuggle large quantities of ecstasy from Europe to the United States from early 1998 until mid-1999.
U.S. agents seized about 200,000 ecstasy tablets and $400,000 in cash during the investigation in which 40 people were indicted, officials said.
“Ben David and Levi are textbook examples of the type of major international drug traffickers the DEA targets worldwide,” U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration special agent Thomas Raffanello said in a written statement.
Ecstasy is an amphetamine that has stimulant and hallucinogenic effects and is popular with teen-agers and young adults at dance clubs, parties and rock concerts.
Officials alleged Ben David coordinated shipments of ecstasy from Europe to the United States, and Levi helped distribute the drug at nightclubs in south Florida.
The two, who were arrested in Israel last August, were expected to arrive in Florida this weekend and appear in a federal court in Miami on Monday.