Jewish Journal

When Israelis were drug lords

by Brad A. Greenberg

April 2, 2009 | 2:52 pm

Ten years ago, the Israeli mafia dominated Ecstasy drug trafficking. Lisa Sweetingham unravels the international web in her new book, “Chemical Cowboys,” about which I interviewed her for next week’s Jewish Journal.

What I found most interesting about our discussion of Israelis and Ecstasy was the use of atypical mules for the smuggling of pills cooked in Europe. Sweetingham mentioned “stripper couriers and haredi teens and Midwestern-looking folks.” Wait ... haredi teens?

Yep. This in-depth story from the Miami New Times tells a lurid tale. Here’s a shorter explanation from a 2004 expose from Haaretz on kingpin Oded Tuito and the Ecstasy trade:

In addition to the strippers, Tuito also made use of young ultra-Orthodox Jews, whom he recruited by word of mouth in New York yeshivas. He believed—and rightly so, as it turned out—that the U.S. authorities would not suspect yeshiva students dressed in the traditional black garb and therefore would not check their luggage at the airport in New York.

Talk about bad for the Jews.

And it was. That Haaretz report, which opens with the mention that Israelis controlled as much as 75 percent of the Ecstasy trafficking biz, can be found reprinted on a handful of anti-Semitic and white supremacist web sites.

If you’re interested, Sweetingham has a reading tonight at Vroman’s Bookstore in Pasadena.

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