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Las Vegas indictment targets international drug trafficking ring

Updated July 14, 2021 - 3:56 pm

Federal authorities announced on Wednesday that six people, including two from Las Vegas, have been indicted in connection with an international drug trafficking ring and money laundering conspiracy.

The defendants face upward of 100 federal charges in what was dubbed “Operation Money Maker.” The two Las Vegas residents named in the indictment are 51-year-old Barak Amar and 36-year-old Moshe Malka.

Authorities said the case emanated from Las Vegas and involved investigations from at least seven countries.

Aaron Rouse, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Las Vegas field office, said the operation had been in the works for six years, and that law enforcement had “dismantled and disrupted a major transnational organized crime network.”

He said the arrests amounted to removing a “cog in the wheel” of South American drug traffickers, as well as Asian and Russian criminal enterprises that stretched around the world. Dozens more arrests could be made, he said.

“This operation should serve as a warning to other criminal organizations that regardless of where they operate, the FBI and our outstanding law enforcement partners around the world will root them out and bring them to justice,” Rouse told reporters at a news conference.

He declined to elaborate on how the organization operated.

Amar is accused of conspiring to distribute more than 500 grams of cocaine and faces one count of conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance and one count of distribution of a controlled substance.

An indictment against Amar, which was unsealed Tuesday, alleges that the conspiracy took place from September 2017 to November 2017 and involved someone identified only as “O.F.”

Amar’s lawyer, Jason Margolis, declined to comment on the allegations but said his client was released from custody on his own recognizance after an initial court appearance Tuesday afternoon.

Malka is accused of conspiring to deposit illegal cash proceeds into his bank account and writing checks to others involved in the operation. He faces one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering and 10 counts of money laundering.

Others indicted are Arshak Arayan, 41, of Los Angeles; Ofir Frieden, 38, of San Jose, California; Djekem Kedoshim, 31, of Seattle; and Shine True, 39, of Phoenix.

Indictments for those four defendants and Malka were not available as of Wednesday afternoon.

Rouse said the charges would have a “huge impact” on drug and money laundering organizations around the globe.

“Think about how this cog supports multiple other criminal organizations,” Rouse said. “Take the cog out, the spokes fall.”

The Australian Federal Police, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the Colombian National Police, the Costa Rican Judicial Investigation Organization, the Israeli National Police, the Romanian Intelligence Service and the United Kingdom National Crime Agency participated in the investigation.

Contact David Ferrara at dferrara@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-1039. Follow @randompoker on Twitter.

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