A career IDF tracker was sentenced to 16 months in an Israel Defense Forces prison after he was found guilty of passing on information about the deployment of IDF forces in southern Israel that helped drug smugglers.

The verdict in the tracker’s trial was handed down a few days ago by a military court in Kastina, following his confession to the charges leveled against him: conspiracy to carry out a crime and deviation from authority, as well as endangerment of state security.

The tracker admitted that on several occasions he passed on reports regarding the location of IDF forces in the southern border region, including the surveillance gear at the soldiers’ disposal, territorial range of patrols and troop movements. The charge sheet notes that the non-commissioned officer passed on this information “to unauthorized parties, which made use of this information for the purpose of smuggling goods along the Israel-Egypt border.”

The affair came to light last June, when 12 enlisted men and lower-ranking career soldiers were arrested on suspicion of trafficking in drugs valued at NIS 800,000. At the time, the Military Police claimed that two career soldiers, both of whom held the rank of master sergeant, as well as a regular army soldier, were involved in the drug trade, which included heroin, cocaine, hashish and ecstasy tablets.

In addition, two career soldiers, including the non-commissioned officer who has now been convicted, and six other soldiers, were arrested on suspicion of passing on information in their possession about the IDF deployment along the border and about planned ambushes.

According to the police investigation, they transferred the intelligence data by means of cell phone and text messages to a Bedouin civilian, who in turn transferred the information to another Bedouin, a resident of Egypt. According to the police, this enabled the smuggling to occur free of interference by the army or other security organizations. In exchange, the soldiers received sums of money estimated in the thousands of shekels.

At first, the indictment against the tracker that was submitted to the Southern Command’s military court in Kastina included sections in which he was accused of actually participating in the smuggling of goods, in addition to the charges of which he was convicted. In the course of the court hearings, this charge was removed.

Yossi Lin, the tracker’s defense attorney, stated: “This man was an outstanding soldier over a long period of time, a man who risked his life on several occasions in the course of encounters with terrorists. He has expressed remorse over the incident.”

In addition, a plea bargain is now in the works with another civilian involved in the smuggling, who was arrested by the police when the affair came to light.