With little effort, an undercover Tel Aviv police officer made dozens of drug purchases out in the open, and at the bars and bathrooms of nearly a dozen clubs in the city in recent months, as part of a police sting against the nightclub drug trade.

The purchases carried out by the officer, a 27-year-old man originally from the former Soviet Union, led to the arrests of 29 alleged drug dealers in the Tel Aviv area on Tuesday morning, in a major arrest operation involving special patrol officers, canine units, and Border Patrol undercover units.

In most cases cocaine was the drug scored, but the undercover agent, “Alef,” also bought LSD, MDMA and GHB (often called “the date rape drug”) on other occasions.

The investigation resulted in six Tel Aviv clubs receiving month-long closure notices, among them some of the leading clubs in the city, including The Cat and Dog on Carlebach Street.

At the north Tel Aviv police station on Tuesday, Alef spoke about how he had carried out the investigation, finding drugs with an ease that should come as no surprise to anyone who has spent time at nightclubs in the city.

Alef said he would go out to the clubs and talk to people at the bar, or on the dance floor, or in waiting in line for the bathroom – which at most of the clubs named is usually jam-packed with people doing lines of cocaine off the tops of toilets and sinks.

“It was very easy and available; really every person going out can find these drugs easily,” Alef said. “Any normal person can just go up and talk to people.”

Alef said there was a certain culture and basic level of slang he had to learn to blend in; though at first glance, at least on the outside, he did look like someone who had spent a few late nights listening to trance music from the inside of a thumping bathroom stall.

Police Ch.-Insp. Amos Tzemah said that police “are looking to secure places of leisure like clubs, but the second they go from being legitimate entertainment locations to markets that allow the easy acquisition of drugs, we have to step in to protect the public.”

Tzemah said police don’t believe the club owners or bartenders are involved in the drug trade. He said all those arrested were dealers who were not employed in the clubs and who operated with or without the knowledge of the clubs.

In January, the Tel Aviv District announced the completion of a separate eightmonth undercover operation against drug dealers in Jaffa, during which an agent named “D” managed the arrests of 21 street-level dealers.

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