Huge Uzbek 'Mummy' Pill Smuggling Ring Nabbed

Woman ringleader, mules caught with NIS 1.5m worth of tablets by alert Customs agents at airport

Mumio food additive pills take their name from the word for mummy, implying they preserve your body and health. But Israelis who want to buy the pills - even illegally - may have to wait a bit longer. Customs agents on Tuesday foiled a plan to smuggle Mumio pills and chewing tobacco worth NIS 1.5 million into the country.

Mumio is found in the mountains of Central Asia.

A woman from Uzbekistan was arrested at Ben-Gurion Airport and later released on bail by the Ramle Magistrate's Court. Shukurova Mubaru is suspected of heading a smuggling ring comprised of three other mules, also arrested.

Aside from the smugglers' failure to pay customs and taxes, importing the food supplement also requires a license from the Health Ministry.

The three suspected mules arrived on the same Uzbekistan Airlines flight as Mubaru and passed through the "green lane" at customs for people with nothing to declare. But they were stopped. Customs agents inspected their bags and found thousands of the Mumio tablets as well as a large quantity of chewing tobacco.

The Customs Authority's drug unit at Ben-Gurion Airport said that after flying in, Mubaru left the baggage collection area without her bags. It seems she saw her compatriots being searched and decided to wait. She returned to the airport later, telling Uzbekistan Airlines reps she had forgotten her bags and wanted to retrieve them. The airline employee found her two bags and told her to go through customs inspection.

She also tried to pass without declaring anything. But she, too, was caught, with thousands of pills and tobacco - and with copies of the passports of five other foreigners and the original documents of the mules already arrested.