Israeli police arrested 57 people suspected of trafficking in drugs and guns in an early morning raid on Monday, culminating an undercover investigation that lasted over a year and saw police recruit a former criminal with influence in the Arab community.
The police said that the criminal, who used to operate in the area of Lod in the center of Israel, had direct access to senior people in organized crime groups. The man helped the police in the cases of 15 of the police’s most wanted targets, including the heads of crime families from the Jerusalem area, a well-known criminal figure from the south and other alleged criminals from the Arab community who were at the top of the police’s list in recent years.
The police said they expect to arrest more suspects in these cases.
The former criminal, known by the police as “Leon,” worked in cooperation with an undercover police officer. The two documented the purchase of five M-16 rifles, three AK-47s, four pistols and three explosive devices – along with the sale of 10 kilograms of cocaine and a kilo of heroin.
The former criminal was placed in the witness protection program of the Public Security Ministry due to the large number of deals he made and the number of criminals he was in contact with as part of the operation. The police said recruiting Leon was one of the most important steps they have made in fighting crime in recent years.
One of the deals made by Leon was the purchase of a powerful explosive device with wireless detonating mechanism. The seller – who was also one of the targets of the undercover operation – demonstrated the operating range of the device to Leon, the police said in a statement.
Most of those arrested were allegedly involved in weapons sales, while others sold drugs and some were active in the loan-sharking gray market.
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The new Public Security Minister Amir Ohana said he “saw particular importance in the operation of the agent in the Arab community. We have the responsibility to provide security to all the citizens of the country, wherever they are.”
Acting police commissioner, Maj. Gen. Moti Cohen, said it is important to strengthen public trust among the Arab community in Israel.