Customs on Case Where Trouble Is Brewing. Or Coffee

The radar of Israeli customs inspectors at Ben-Gurion International Airport went nuts after noticing an unusual travel pattern by a young Russian woman: She would fly into Israel and right out again after a couple of hours. The unit was also struck by the fact that the woman would use Masada Lounge VIP service, which caters mainly to the big-business crowd and costs $250.

The customs czars specifically suspected that she was a mule smuggling drugs, gems or possibly cash.

This week, the woman stepped off an Aerosvit flight from Kiev and into the watchful eyes of Israel's crack narcotics team of customs agents.

Passing through the Masada Lounge, she went to an adjacent parking lot - where she was met by an Israeli woman.

A handoff went down, but instead of a sly package getting passed, the Israeli woman took two plastic shopping bags out of her car and handed them to the Israeli.

The team split up to follow the two. The Israeli drove off and the Russian went back into the terminal to await her flight home. Both were soon detained for investigation.

Team One seized the bags from the Russian, which turned out to contain 10 kilos of - coffee. "Black coffee" - kafeh shahor - with cardamom. Testing the substance proved what the inspectors had begun to suspect - it was coffee. With cardamom.

Meanwhile, Team Two stopped the Israeli, searched her car and found - a receipt. From Hatzi Hinam. For coffee. Interrogation of the pair revealed that the Russian was flying back and forth at the service of a Jewish-Russian oligarch with a taste for black coffee with cardamom. He actually had a number of mules doing his shopping in Israel, which have in the past included 'smuggling' out soup nuts and a dress from a store in Tel Aviv. Customs released the two, saying they were within the bounds of the law.