Israeli Drug Kingpin Receives 32 Year Federal Prison Sentence

An Israeli man in California who is linked to the notorious Abergil crime family in his home country was just sentenced to 32 years in federal prison for operating a “vast criminal conspiracy” that sold drugs and laundered money across multiple continents.

Matsri, also known as “Moshe the Religious,” was well known as a major crime figure in California’s Fernando Valley. The man has been in custody since July 2013, when he and several codefendants were arrested as the result of a joint DEA, FBI, and LAPD investigation. These agencies also worked with Dutch, Belgian, Canadian, and Israeli authorities.

According to the sentencing memorandum, Matsri acted as the CEO of his drug trafficking and money laundering business. He is known to have used sophisticated networks to transfer more than $660,000 in cash from drug proceeds across the US and international borders.

Matsri took advantage of a variety of loosely regulated banking systems such as having shell accounts in Gibraltar, Cyprus, and the Marshall Islands. He also used the hawala system that lets people transfer cash instantaneously between locations using trusted moneylenders that operate below the radar in the US, but are widespread in Afghanistan and other countries. This allowed him to transfer money between New York and Los Angeles and from Vancouver to Los Angeles.

Two undercover agents infiltrated his ring and set up deals with Matsri. One posed as a Columbian drug trafficker, while the other acted as his Los Angeles-based associate. They worked together to commit three sets of crimes. One involved transporting what Matsri thought was cocaine from Los Angeles to Utah by car and collecting what he thought was a $40,00 drug dept using vandalism and threats of violence.

Another scheme involved paying $79,500 in cash to ship 20 kilograms of cocaine from Panama to Israel. Matrsri also proposed a deal to purchase 100 kilograms of cocaine in Los Angeles to sell in New York. At that point, federal authorities arrested him.