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Police arrested 23 suspected members of a drug ring in the north early yesterday morning, based on tips provided by an undercover agent over a six-month period.

The informant, who has a criminal past himself, is related to some of the suspects whose arrest he brought about.

During the six months he was working undercover for the police, they videotaped him buying heroin, cocaine, hashish and ecstasy from some 38 suspects from Haifa, Umm al-Fahm, Shfaram, Tirat Carmel and Fureidis.

"The informant was very close to and had access to them and managed to buy drugs from all the suspects for over NIS 150,000," the operation's commander, Chief Superintendent Michael Shafshak said, adding that the suspects netted in the operation were "quite well-known."

One of the "well-known figures" is the informant's uncle.

In court yesterday, family members of the suspects appeared shocked and confused when they realized that one of their relatives had led to the arrest of others.