Torture van found as suspected Israeli gang leader held in South Africa raid

Police say drugs and gun also found at Johannesburg property where they detained wanted Abergil gang member and seven others

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.

Staff and agencies in Johannesburg

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Israeli president denies offering nuclear weapons to apartheid South Africa
Shimon Peres dismisses claims relating to secret files but US researcher says denials are disingenuous

Chris McGreal in Washington, Rory McCarthy in Jerusalem and David Smith in Johannesburg

24, May, 2010 @10:13 PM

Article image
Revealed: how Israel offered to sell South Africa nuclear weapons

Exclusive: Secret apartheid-era papers give first official evidence of Israeli nuclear weapons

Chris McGreal in Washington

24, May, 2010 @9:13 AM

Article image
Israel condemns South Africa for re-labelling of West Bank products
South African ambassador summoned over move to label items as coming from occupied Palestinian territories not settlements

David Smith in Johannesburg

23, Aug, 2012 @3:11 PM

Article image
South Africa monitored Iranian agents under US pressure, spy cables show
Lives of Pretoria embassy staff scrutinised despite intelligence service stating repeatedly that Iran poses no threat to the country

Seumas Milne and Ewen MacAskill

23, Feb, 2015 @6:07 PM

Article image
Apartheid-era minister carried 'nuclear trigger' in hand luggage to South Africa
Eschel Rhoodie transported device used to detonate atomic bombs on flight from Israel in mid-70s, say journalists

Chris McGreal in Washington

03, Jun, 2010 @5:13 PM

Article image
South Africa kidnappers make ransom demand in bitcoin
Abductors of boy, 13, left note demanding £92,000 worth of cryptocurrency for his release

Jason Burke in Johannesburg and agencies

22, May, 2018 @6:52 PM

Article image
Bodies of 20 suspected illegal miners found near abandoned South Africa goldmine
Remains were discovered close to disused mine shafts near Johannesburg

Helen Sullivan

17, Jun, 2021 @4:14 AM

Article image
Israeli spyware used to target Moroccan journalist, Amnesty claims
Amnesty alleges phone of Omar Radi in Morocco was infected by NSO’s Pegasus software

Stephanie Kirchgaessner in Washington

21, Jun, 2020 @10:00 PM

Article image
South Africa's Israel boycott | Ronnie Kasrils

Ronnie Kasrils: An international boycott helped end apartheid – now South Africans are leading world opposition to racism in Israel

Ronnie Kasrils

29, Sep, 2010 @7:00 AM

Article image
Trump reportedly picks handbag designer as ambassador to South Africa
Lana Marks, whose products retail for $10,000 to $400,000, was born in South Africa but has not lived there for more than 40 years

Jason Burke in Johannesburg and Sabrina Siddiqui in Washington

02, Oct, 2018 @4:08 PM