FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 16, 2004
Force Dismantles International Ecstasy Ring
of 13 defendants have been arrested in recent weeks for their involvement
in an international drug ring that allegedly
imported millions of doses of the club drug “Ecstasy” from
Europe into the United States. As a result of Operation Money Man, authorities
have seized well over 300,000 doses of Ecstasy with a street value of
nearly $7 million.
Authorities in Los Angeles announced the case today following arrests
Monday of five defendants and the seizure of approximately 160,000
tablets of Ecstasy
(3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine, or MDMA). The case is the result of a joint,
international undercover operation that included the Drug Enforcement Administration,
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Santa Monica Police Department,
and Austrian and Czech authorities.
The five arrests this week, and eight other arrests in recent weeks, cap a
two-year investigation known as Operation Money Man that was conducted by the
Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), which includes agents from ICE
and DEA, as well as investigators from the Santa Monica Police Department.
arrested are accused of being part of an international coalition that trafficked
in Ecstasy and laundering the monetary profits of the illegal trade.
According to criminal complaints filed in this case, the investigation began
in March 2002 when ICE agents learned that a group comprised primarily of Israeli
nationals were trafficking Ecstasy in the Los Angeles area. The investigation
quickly focused on Eliyahu Marciano, the head of an organization that imported
Ecstasy from Europe with help from associates in the Czech Republic. Over the
last year, investigators believe the European ring shipped more than 7 million
Ecstasy tablets from the Czech Republic to the United States, Australia, Poland
and Russia. Criminal complaints filed in federal court in Los Angeles allege
that Marciano and co-conspirators laundered drug trafficking proceeds through
loan fraud and real estate transactions.
Those arrested on Monday were:
• Oskar Benes, 44, of Prague, who headed a European organization that shipped
to Los Angeles;
Vaclav Pitas, 50, of Prague, who oversaw distribution for Benes’ organization;
• Nimrod Haim, 27, of Prague, who brokered Ecstasy deals between Pitas
Martin Celner, 40, of Brentwood, who is associated with Benes’ organization;
• Bohumil Chudoba, 62, of Santa Monica, who was arrested when he delivered
160,000 Ecstasy tablets to an undercover law enforcement officer.
In June, ICE and DEA agents, aided by officers from the Santa Monica,
Burbank, and Torrance Police Departments, the Los Angeles Sheriff’s
Department, and the Los Angeles Interagency Metropolitan Police
Apprehension Crime Task
Force (IMPACT), arrested Marciano and six members of his organization. Those
• Marciano, also known as “Lucky” and “Kuku” (“ponytail” in
Hebrew), 29, of Hollywood;
• Hillel Shamam, 38, of Woodland Hills, who allegedly helped Marciano launder
drug proceeds through real estate transactions;
• Sanny Assoulin, 30, of Sherman Oaks, an alleged Ecstasy distributor;
• Vladimyr Frazilus, 35, of Aliso Viejo and West Los Angeles, who trafficked
• Edens Guerrier, 29, of West Hollywood, who allegedly purchased Ecstasy
from Marciano and acted as a courier;
• Vince Wilson, 39, of Paramount, who allegedly arranged for the transportation
of Ecstasy to the United States on behalf of Marciano; and
• Tyreisha Lashon Baldwin, 20, of Watts, who allegedly traveled to Belgium
to ship Ecstasy tablets to the United States.
A 13th defendant in the case, Yossi Mashiah, 46, an illegal alien,
was in state custody on narcotics charges at the time of the
Marciano is being held without bail. The government has until October 26
to indict him and the other defendants.
Throughout the investigation, American law enforcement received substantial
support from the Austrian National Police, the Belgium Federal Police, the
Czech National Police, the Spanish National Police and the Israeli National