The Mexican Prosecutor’s Office investigates the relationship between organized crime and the death of two Israeli citizens
It began as a crime of jealousy and has ended up taking the form of a vendetta of international dimension. The assassination of two Israeli citizens on Wednesday in a luxurious shopping center in Mexico City has focused on an alleged dispute between the Israeli mafia and organized Mexican crime. The crime, which has focused the attention of the Latin American country, has been the outcome of a transoceanic history of prison escapes, hired assassins and drug trafficking.
The event lasted 25 seconds. On Wednesday afternoon a man and a woman, apparently in a wig, are sitting at a table in the Hanun restaurant in Plaza Artz, south of the Mexican capital. Despite the late hour, the elegant dining room is full of diners and the waiters, in white uniforms, circulate through the tables, as shown by the sepia images recorded by the restaurant’s surveillance cameras. After 17.00, the couple gets up without hurry, hands in their pockets, approaches a nearby table and fires several shots at close range. The bodies of Benjamin Sutchi, 44, and Alon Azoulay, 41, lie on the ground.
After the shooting, the rest of the guests are grounded or hidden in the kitchen, while the aggressor couple runs away. Outside the mall, two other members of the band subject a policeman and, submachine gun in hand, engage in a shooting with another uniformed man, who is injured. Two of the alleged criminals escape in a blue vehicle, which has been found this Friday abandoned in a neighborhood in the south of the capital. While they manage to flee and have not yet been caught, the woman, already without a wig, is arrested.
At first, Esperanza N., 33, told the Prosecutor that it was a matter of jealousy, a revenge for alleged infidelity. Then he confessed to being hired for 5,000 pesos, about 260 dollars, to kill them, according to information leaked to the Mexican press. The confession launched the investigation in another direction: a vendetta between international crime gangs. The spokesman for the local Prosecutor’s Office, Ulises Lara, confirmed on Thursday the thesis of a concerted action involving at least four people and related it to “arrangements with the Israeli mafia.” Federal Security Secretary Alfonso Durazo has gone further this Friday, by establishing a link with Mexican organizations and pointing to an “adjustment of accounts” for money laundering. Mexico closed 2018 with a record homicide rate and the first half of 2019 is the most violent semester since there are records.
The story of Benjamín Sutchi, one of the two murdered men and old acquaintance of the Mexican police authorities, is Rocambolesque. The Israeli Embassy in the Latin American country confirmed on Thursday that it had a criminal record in both countries and offered the “necessary cooperation” to clarify the facts. Israeli media have linked Sutchi with an attempted murder in 1990 in Tel Aviv, for which he was sentenced to 17 years in a maximum security center in Israel, along with his boss and accomplice Erez Akrishevsky. The latter had previously been arrested in a Jerusalem market disguised as an ultra-Orthodox Jew, according to the Ynet News portal. Neither criminal ever served the sentence; They escaped in 2001 and began a journey through several Latin American countries.
When Sutchi landed in Mexico, he began working for the Jewish community of the capital as a security consultant, according to what was then said Subsecretary of Public Security of the city Gabriel Regino in an interview with El Heraldo. Soon after, the Israeli returned to illegality and devoted himself to extortion and drug trafficking. In 2005 he was arrested in Polanco, the wealthy neighborhood of the capital where he dedicated himself to distribute cocaine according to Regino, and deported to Israel.
After serving his sentence, Sutchi left prison in early 2019 and returned to Mexico, where his former escape partner Erez Akrishevsky also lived, as reported by the newspaper Reforma. The Mexican authorities, who were seeking the latter for their links to organized crime, arrested Akrishevsky a week ago in the tourist resort of Cancun, in the Mexican Caribbean, and deported him a day before Sutchi’s murder. The proximity of one date and another have also made the authorities suspect a revenge of the former partner.
The transnational dimension of murder has aroused a keen interest in Mexico. The capital, scene of the double murder, has recently been shaken by a battery of media crimes that has impacted on the perception of security of its citizens. “Unfortunately, organized crime today has an international character and this leads to the presence of criminals from other countries here in Mexico,” said Secretary Alfonso Durazo.