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01-17-07, 07:39 AM #1
Israeli drug kingpin pleads guilty in Florida
By Jim Loney
Tue Jan 16, 8:27 PM ET
An Israeli drug kingpin whose cartel may have smuggled millions of ecstasy pills into the United States pleaded guilty on Tuesday and was sentenced to 12 years in prison, which he plans to serve in an Israeli jail.
Zeev Rosenstein, known as "The Fat Man," was extradited by Israel to the United States in March 2006 to face charges that he headed a sophisticated drug-trafficking network spanning four continents.
Rosenstein pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to two charges, conspiracy to import and conspiracy to distribute ecstasy, an illegal party drug often used in nightclubs. U.S. District Judge William Dimitrouleas immediately sentenced him to 12 years in prison.
"He is by far the largest criminal figure ever extradited to the United States from Israel," U.S. Attorney Alex Acosta said at a news conference. "Today he admitted to the charges."
"His organization, over time, has been responsible for hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of ecstasy pills being brought to the United States."
U.S. authorities seized 700,000 pills in a single shipment in July 2001.
Rosenstein was arrested by Israeli authorities in November 2004 and was sent to Florida after Israel's Supreme Court rejected his appeal to block extradition in November 2005.
Under the terms of the extradition agreement, Rosenstein can serve his sentence in Israel, but no such request had been made yet, Acosta said.
"The extradition agreement allows him to apply to serve within the Israeli penal system," he said. "To the extent the Israeli penal system has rules different from that of the United States, he would be serving under the Israeli rules."
Acosta did not directly answer questions as to whether that would effectively allow Rosenstein to be paroled before serving the full 12 years.
"Under U.S. law he has been sentenced to 12 years. Whether that is recognized fully by the courts of Israel is not a matter the U.S. can address," he said.
Rosenstein's lawyer, Howard Srebnick, said his client intends to apply to serve the sentence in Israel and would be eligible for parole after serving 62 percent of the sentence, with credit for the time he has already served.
"We calculate he will be eligible for parole in five years and four months," Srebnick said.
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