TA police arrest 21 drug dealers in Jaffa sting
"You just have to stick to your story," says undercover cop about experiences during 8-month operation.
UNDERCOVER TEL Aviv Police agent Photo: Ben Hartman
Months into a deep undercover drug investigation in Jaffa, a dealer grabbed
police agent “D” and threw him inside a doorway, screaming that he knew he was a
cop. D said he didn’t sweat or fear for his life; instead he fell into the
training he’d learned months earlier before being deployed by the Tel Aviv
“I just kept my cool, yelled back at him some, and
managed to calm the situation,” he said. “You just have to stick to your story
and do your best to calm the situation. This was all covered in my
Speaking to reporters at the Tel Aviv police headquarters on
Tuesday, D recounted how he spent eight months heading an undercover sting that
resulted in the arrest of 21 drug dealers in Jaffa and Lod on
His story began when he joined the police after finishing his
army service in the paratroopers, and was quickly recruited for a mission his
commanders wouldn’t explain.
Saying his superiors had “made me an offer I
couldn’t refuse,” the 27-year-old married father of a four-year- old girl told
his family he’d be spending the next few months doing police work in the Center,
and left their home in the North for Jaffa.
His commanders then put him
through a months-long training course before setting him up in a rental
apartment in Jaffa. They gave him a back story, and he began slowly building
trust among locals, telling them he was a thief dealing in stolen
“You have a story to tell people, and you have to stick to it
and make them believe you,” D said. “You have to visit these places in the
neighborhood and spend time with people, and eventually you build up a double
He added that he had begun to gain people’s trust just by living
in the neighborhood, passing the time with them at a kiosk or drinking coffee
with them down on the corner.
D also spoke Tuesday of his childhood in
the Ukraine, where he lived until the age of 12. When he was a young boy, he
said, his father worked as an agent for the Ukrainian police in the years after
the breakup of the Soviet Union, when the former satellite became overrun with
violence and organized crime. He said his father would be gone for days or weeks
at a time, always with the understanding that he was off doing police work, and
no further questions were to be asked.
Over the eight months in Jaffa, D
made around 40 street-level purchases of heroin and cocaine, usually only a gram
or so at a time.
His commanders recorded the purchases, which led to the
dealers’ arrests in a series of sweeps by police detectives, YASSAM officers,
and Border Police on Tuesday morning.
After months of living in a world
far different than the one he grew up in, D was on his way back to the North on
Tuesday, where he will return to his regular police duties, and to seeing his
wife and daughter on a daily basis.
Asked if he ever built up any empathy
for the people to whom he became close and then had arrested, D thought for a
moment and said, “A lot of times they’re normal people, normal people with
families just like you and me. A lot of times they’re victims of all of this