Israeli’s ‘most wanted gang leader’ arrested in South Africa with weapons, drugs, ‘torture van’

A man reputed to be one of Israel’s most wanted gang leaders was arrested during a raid of a home in a posh Johannesburg suburb where South African authorities said they also found guns, drugs, and a van equipped for torture.

The 46-year-old Israeli is a member of the Abergil gang, which deals in drug trafficking and extortion, and he is wanted in Israel for several attempted murders, South Africa police Col. Athlenda Mathe said in a statement Thursday.

The suspect has been on Interpol’s wanted list since 2015 and hid out in South Africa for several years, Mathe said. Seven others were arrested in the raid, according to the statement.

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Authorities said walls 13 feet high surrounded the house. Among the items seized were 19 firearms, including five assault rifles and seven pistols, six motorcycles – three of them reported as stolen, a signal jamming device, four drones fitted with cameras, and eight motor vehicles.

South African Police Service officers gather at a house in Bryanston, Johannesburg, on Nov. 17, 2022, following the arrest of a 46-year-old Israeli fugitive who has been on Interpol’s red notice since 2015.
(AFP via Getty Images)

One of the vehicles was a delivery truck that had been adapted for use by a sniper and had heavy sound insulation and a chair bolted to the floor that was designed to be used for torture, the police statement said.

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The raid was led by Interpol South Africa and special police units.

According to Israeli authorities, the suspect is wanted for incidents in 2003 and 2004. He is accused of placing an explosive bomb underneath a vehicle of a man in Israel on two separate occasions. As a result of the first explosion, five people sustained serious injuries but all survived.