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  • 13

    The Mob From Zion
    Immigration; Posted on: 2007-04-27 14:39:46 [ Printer friendly / Instant flyer ]
    A former drug dealer spills the beans

    Allison Hoffman

    A decade before Tony and Carmela Soprano started bickering in New Jersey, a high-level cocaine dealer called Ron Gonen and his wife, Honey, were at each other’s throats in a Long Island mock-Tudor with three bedrooms and a two-car garage.

    The neighbors in Long Beach were supposed to think that Gonen went to work every day in Manhattan’s Diamond District while Honey stayed home with the kids. In reality, Gonen went to a fourth-floor walk-up on the Upper West Side that served as a base for moving high-grade Colombian cocaine to clients in New York, Europe and Israel. More often that not, the deals were made on behalf of the Israeli Mafia, a gang of Tel Aviv criminals who made a short-lived, audacious play to challenge the Russian mob and corner New York’s heroin market.

    But unlike Tony Soprano, Gonen got caught. In September 1989 — just before the High Holy Days — he was arrested by narcotics agents and taken to a federal building in New Jersey. Ignoring Honey’s shrieks from the hallway, where she was insisting that she and her husband would fight any charges, Gonen decided that for him, the game was over.

    He turned state’s witness and gave authorities their first full account of the “blood and volume” crimes of the Israeli gang and its leader, Yehuda “Johnny” Attias. In a space of two years, from 1987 to 1989, Gonen claims, Attias and his crew began importing quantities of heroin into New York from Amsterdam and took out a hit on a Russian mob kingpin involved in a gasoline racketeering scheme. They also staged the largest gold heist in the history of Manhattan’s jewelry district, fencing $4 million worth of gold chains and pocketing the insurance payout to double their money.

    “When the bodies began to fly, no one knew from which direction — an Italian got shot, a Russian got shot, an Israeli, an Arab, one in Manhattan, one in Brooklyn, one in Queens,” Gonen said in a recent interview with the Forward. “So when they picked me up, I said, ‘Okay, you can’t even see the whole picture.’ I opened the door.”

    Now, after 17 years in the federal witness protection program, Gonen has told the tale again, this time to Dave Copeland, a Boston-based journalist whom he found on the listings Web site Craigslist. Copeland’s new book, “Blood & Volume,” traces Gonen’s journey from petty thief to snowman. With the book’s publication, Gonen says he and his family lost federal protection, but he nevertheless stands by decision.


    The first sentence in this article, referencing the fictive Sopranos, says a lot: in the popular imagination Italian-Americans are unfairly linked with organized crime, while the Jewish component is seldom if ever mentioned. Like the "redneck" and "Polack" smears so easily flung around, ethnic targeting of European-Americans for ridicule is politically correct.
    News Source: Jewish Daily Forward


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