Money Launderer for International Ecstacy Ring Convicted
(HOUSTON, TX) United States Attorney Michael Shelby announced today the conviction of Zeev Koffman, 54, an Israeli national with U.S. citizenship, for conspiracy to launder proceeds generated by an international Ecstacy drug smuggling ring. United States District Judge Lynn N. Hughes, who pronounced the verdict of guilty today following a bench trial that began on February 8, 2005, has set sentencing for May 9, 2005. Koffman faces a maximum statutory prison term of 20 years, and a fine $500,000. Koffman is one of a several persons indicted in September 2002, as a result of an Organized Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation dubbed “Operation Spy Games”. The international investigation resulted in the indictment of 26 persons allegedly involved in the importation into the U.S. of large quantities of Ecstacy from Europe allegedly supplied by a group operating out of Israel, the laundering of the proceeds and the indictment of two corporations which operated the “The Hub” and “Spy Club”, two downtown Houston night clubs.
During the two day bench trial, the United States proved through the testimony of an international drug smuggler, Gal Kofferberg, that when he needed to pay $200,000 to his Amsterdam suppliers for the MDMA or Ecstacy, which had been imported into Houston from Amsterdam, he followed the instructions he received from Menachim Cohen, an Israeli money launderer, and arranged to meet with Zeev Koffman on the evening of November 15, 2001, at a Houston gas station.
Koffman met with Kofferberg and accepted $200,000 in small denominations of U.S. currency held together in varying amounts by rubber bands, placed in two shoeboxes and transported in a shopping bag. Koffman did not count the money nor did he get a receipt of any kind. The next day, November 16, 2001, Koffman contacted Brinks to send the cash to a specified individual in New York as directed by Cohen. After taking out $2,000 for his fee, Koffman tendered the package of cash to Brinks. The package was intentionally mislabeled to show its contents as jewelry in a effort to disguise the true contents.
Kofferberg has been convicted for his role in this international drug smuggling ring after pleading guilty and is pending sentencing. Israeli authorities arrested Cohen.
The case is the result of an international Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation which began in 1999 conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the United States Customs Service (USCS), the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigations (IRS - CI), the United States Postal Service (USPS), the Harris County Sheriff's Department and law enforcement agencies of The Netherlands, Israel, Spain, France, Belgium and Canada. The case was prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Robert A. Spelke and Matthew Stiglitz from the Department of Justice and Assistant United States Attorney John Smith.