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Israeli Defendants Plead Not Guilty In Federal Drug Probe

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LOS ANGELES (AP) — Five reputed members of an Israeli crime family have pleaded not guilty to federal drug trafficking and racketeering charges for their alleged roles in a Los Angeles-based Ecstasy ring.

Brothers Itzhak and Meir Abergil, who were extradited this week from Jerusalem, and Sasson Barashy, Moshe Malul and Israel Ozifa pleaded not guilty Thursday in Los Angeles federal court to charges in a 2008 indictment. The defendants required help from a Hebrew translator.

Israel arrested the Abergil brothers after prosecutors charged them with using a San Fernando Valley gang to distribute ecstasy pills and paying a gang member to kill a man who stole a drug shipment.

The Los Angeles Times says they face life in prison if convicted, and would serve their sentences in Israel under a U.S. extradition treaty.

(© Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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