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Three hundred grams of a substance that appears to be heroin was discovered yesterday in a kindergarten in the city of Lod, police said yesterday.

According to officers of the Central District Police drug unit, police received intelligence information indicating that drug dealers were concealing their goods in a preschool in the city's Varda neighborhood. Yesterday's raid followed several days of undercover surveillance. The children were evacuated from the building prior to the search.

The substance, divided into 500 doses, was found in nylon bags placed inside the building's telephone switch box. "We knew we'd find drugs there, but had no idea of the kind or quantity," the head of the drug unit's youth division, Chief Inspector Tomer Cohen, said. "We've found drugs and weapons in kindergardens and synagogues in Lod and Ramle before, but this is just outrageous. The criminals couldn't care less what might have happened if one of the children had found the drugs," Cohen said.

The substance was taken to a forensics laboratory for identification. Police said they will be trying to locate those responsible for placing it in the kindergarten.

Lod was once notorious for what are known here as "ATMs" - apartments where drug deals are conducted through a hole in a door or wall. Police said they shut down the last of these a number of months ago. "There's no doubt the pressure we are putting on the drug dealers has them seeking original and "creative" ways to keep up the trade," a drug unit official said yesterday.