Israel Police
The Israel Police. Arresting pot smokers is a superfluous demonstration of power against civilians. Photo by Motti Kimche
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A wide-ranging police raid nabbed 70 suspects Tuesday night from all over the country who are believed to be involved in drug and weapons trafficking and extortion.

Those arrested included most of the members of the gang run by underworld kingpin Michael Mor, though Mor himself is abroad and was not arrested. Members of other crime syndicates were also picked up by the police. The police detained Arabs and released prisoners, and three women and a minor.

The arrests follow a months-long covert operation, police said. It was carried out by hundreds of policemen from the Coastal District Central Unit, commanded by Cmdr. Eli Assayag. The ground work for the operation used two undercover agents, one of them a policeman. The other agent was a recently released prisoner in his forties who lives in a northern community, and who had been giving the police information even before he was released from prison.

During the operation the two agents were able to purchase an FN Mag machine gun, pistols, explosive devices and drugs. In recent months, prosecutors worked with the police to consolidate the evidence so that indictments could be prepared.

"The arrest of these suspects will do significant damage to the crime organizations' infrastructure, and will influence the scope of crime throughout the country," Coastal District commander Maj. Gen. Hagai Dotan said.

A senior police source said "the arrests will hit some of the crime organizations hard, particularly that of Michael Mor." The source said Mor will likely try to work from abroad to help members of his gang, and he is expected to be kept under close surveillance.

All the suspects will be brought before judges in Acre and Haifa today to have their remands extended. Police may also arrest suspects who could not be located during Tuesday's raid.