A convicted drug dealer has absconded from police custody in Ukraine hours before being extradited to his native Israel to face trial on charges.
According to reporting in the Times of Israel, Amos Dov Silver, the founder of a mass cannabis distribution network called Telegrass, escaped hours after the Ukrainian Supreme Court approved an extradition request by Israel, where he was charged with leading a criminal organisation.
Silver reportedly escaped police officers when they removed his electronic monitoring device so he could go through security before boarding a plane to Tel Aviv.
The Israel government had reportedly planned to send a police officer to accompany Silver on his trip to Israel, but failed to send the officer in time for Silver’s flight on Friday morning.
The Israeli police said they are in contact with their Ukrainian counterparts and are tracking the efforts to detain Silver, who was arrested in Ukraine on March 12 at the request of Israeli police.
In April, prosecutors filed charges against 27 people suspected of involvement in Telegrass, effectively shutting down the virtual marijuana marketplace, which operated on the Telegram messaging application. The investigation resulted in the arrest of 42 suspected members in Israel, the United States, Ukraine and Germany, including founder Amos Dov Silver.
Police said that every member of the Telegrass ring had a specific job and was paid in cash, bitcoin or with drugs, while disguising the source of the money, according to Israeli daily Haaretz.
The suspects were charged with various crimes including drug trafficking, contributing to the delinquency of a minor, possession of drugs other than for personal consumption, obstruction of justice, money laundering and tax evasion.
Telegrass is suspected of selling hundreds of millions of shekels and tens of tons of drugs since it has been in operation.