A man reputed to be one of Israel’s most wanted gang leaders has been arrested during a raid on a home in an affluent Johannesburg suburb where South African authorities said they also found guns, drugs and a van equipped for torture.
South African police said on Thursday that the 46-year-old Israeli was a member of the Abergil gang, which deals in drug trafficking and extortion, and that he was wanted in Israel for several attempted murders.
The suspect has been on Interpol’s wanted list since 2015 and hid out in South Africa for several years, police said. Seven others were arrested in the raid, according to the statement.
Authorities said 4-metre-high (13ft) walls 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. Also seized were $40,000 (£34,000) in cash and 3kg of suspected crystal meth.
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.
The raid was led by Interpol South Africa and special police units.
According to Israeli authorities, the suspect is wanted over 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.
South African police shared pictures and videos of the arrest, in which the suspects were seen lying face down, their wrists fastened with cable ties.
The Abergil gang has been linked to two brothers who in 2011 were extradited to the US to face murder, money laundering and drug dealing charges.