First Arab Woman Undercover Cop Nabs 31 Drug, Arms Dealers

Yasmin Melsha: There are drugs on every street and I always dreamed of fighting it.

Yasmin Melsha went to bed last night knowing she could sleep well. She had just told her father and her brother that she had spent the past five months as an undercover police officer, and had brought about the arrests of 31 drug and weapons traffickers in an operation Monday night.

The 24-year-old from Haifa had always dreamed of being a cop. She joined the Civil Guard as a teen, and at 18 was one of the few Arab women to join the Border Police. She broke through another glass ceiling this year when she became the first Israeli Arab female undercover police officer. For months she collected evidence against men from Haifa's Hadar and Wadi Nisnas neighborhood, and from nearby Kiryat Eliezer, who were dealing drugs, hashish and Ecstasy.

The suspects' remands were extended by two more days Tuesday. Additional arrests are expected.

"Fighting drugs is a mission for me," Melsha said Tuesday. "It wasn't easy. I had some fear, but I had a strong desire to continue what I started. Ever since I was a little girl, I was exposed to the street. There are drugs on every street and I always dreamed of fighting it."

Melsha grew up in Haifa. Her mother died when she was young. She concealed her work as an undercover agent from her father, her sister and her brother.

"A few days ago I told my sister, who is here from the United States," said Melsha. She told the rest of the family Tuesday afternoon.

"At first my father didn't know what to say, then he was very proud of me," she said, smiling.

Melsha worked as a security guard at Haifa Police Shore District Headquarters until a few months ago. Central District officers recognized her potential, and recruited her to the force.

Before dawn Tuesday she walked into the briefing room, wearing her blue uniform, her sister at her side. A hundred or so detectives were there, shortly before heading out to arrest the dealers.

"She was right for a specific assignment and a specific area," explained the commander of the district's undercover officers, Atzmon Edry. "She has courage, speaks well and connects with people... She's not a criminal who became an agent, she is an instrument that you shape," Edry said.

Melsha grew up in the same area as the suspects. "I know some of them from childhood," she said. "I have no regrets because I know what side I'm on, and the law is above us all."