Seventy-eight illegal weapons dealers face criminal charges, and 40 rifles, 13 pistols, two machine guns, and two explosive devices with a cellular operating system were seized at the end of a year of undercover work by a police agent in the Arab sector, Israel Police reported Tuesday morning. The agent, a criminal who was flipped in August 2020, acted under the cover of a soldier in an organized crime family.
1,600 Police and Border Police officers, and special forces, raided the homes of the suspects in northern and central Israel. The covert operation, run by the Central Unit of the Northern District, resulted in the largest number of arrests of arms dealers since the establishment of the state in 1948, and the largest amount of weapons seized in such an operation.
Sixty-five suspects were arrested in 25 localities: Tamra, Nazareth, Ilut, Yafia, Kabul, Shefar’am, Sajur, Dalit al-Carmel, Isfahan, Umm al-Fahm, Zelfa, Ma’ale Iron, Tamra, Bosmat Tivon, Ivtin, Fordis, Yarka, Kfar Yassif, Qalansua, and Taibeh, as well as villages in eastern Jerusalem.
בתום שנה של הפעלת סוכן סמוי שפעל במגזר הערבי, הופללו 78 סוחרי אמצעי לחימה ונתפסו 40 רובים, 13 אקדחים, שני מקלעים ושני מטעני חבלה עם מערכת הפעלה סלולרית מוכנים להפעלה. הסוכן, עבריין שחצה את הקווים, פעל תחת כיסוי של חייל בארגון פשע שמספק נשק למעסיקיו pic.twitter.com/n6DVcU16c0
— משטרת ישראל (@IL_police) November 9, 2021
The commander of the Northern District of the Israel Police Major General Shimon Lavi stated: “Instead of chasing mosquitoes we decided to dry the swamp, and that is our goal. It should be understood that we have targeted crime in the Arab sector and today in my humble opinion we gave a blow that harmed the main infrastructure of the arms dealers in the sector, these are snakeheads and not junior traders.”
Lavi continued: “We wanted to address the phenomenon from its root and were surprised by the easy access of the arms dealers to weapons both from the territories and from thefts from the IDF. This business offers a huge financial gain. The price of an assault rifle is estimated at around NIS 100,000 ($32,000) when a unit’s price in the territories is only NIS 50,000 ($16,000), which makes the risk the dealers take worthwhile. MAG machine guns cost 180,000 shekels ($58,000), which are huge sums with huge profits.”
“We came across dominant figures who were flying just below the radar and the scope of their activity was very secret. Investigators from the Central Unit (SAR) of the Northern District acted professionally and made quick connections that led to the indictment of the suspects. These are transactions that our undercover agent made, purchasing weapons in a total amount estimated at millions of shekels,” Lavi said.