Israel's Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that Israel can extradite suspected mob boss Zeev Rosenstein to the United States on drug smuggling charges. Extradition would still require the approval of Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, lawyers said. Rosenstein may appeal Livni's decision to the Supreme Court, his lawyer Yaron Ben-Dor told Israel Radio.
A lower court had ruled in April that Rosenstein could be extradited, but he appealed the ruling. Israeli police, acting on an international arrest warrant, arrested Rosenstein a year ago for allegedly smuggling drugs from the European Union to the United States.
Rosenstein was accused of coordinating the distribution of 700,000 Ecstasy pills that were seized in a Manhattan apartment along with $187,000 in July 2001.
The drugs, which originated in Europe, were seized after they were offered for sale to an undercover Miami-Dade County police informant. The informant also worked for the Drug Enforcement Administration. U.S. prosecutors described Rosenstein as one of the most wanted drug traffickers in the world. The investigation leading to Rosenstein's arrest spanned three years and several countries. Rosenstein, 51, has long been accused of being one of Israel's top mob leaders, but aside from a brief stint in prison for armed robbery in the 1970s, he had eluded authorities.
In December 2003, a bomb attack targeted Rosenstein, the seventh attempt on his life, leaving him with scratches while killing three passers-by and wounding 18 others in Tel Aviv. The attack was believed to have been ordered by rival mob bosses, police said, reports the AP. I.L.