27 alleged pot dealers indicted in Telegrass bust

The service was supposed to provide anonymity to dealers and buyers.

By
April 19, 2019 02:43
2 minute read.
marijuana israel tel aviv

A woman smokes during an event marking Israel's government's approval of a new policy to decriminalize personal marijuana use in Tel Aviv, Israel February 4, 2017. (photo credit: REUTERS/BAZ RATNER)

 
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The state prosecution’s cyber unit filed an indictment against 27 people in the Lod District Court tied to the giant Telegrass drug-dealing scandal on Thursday.

According to the indictment, the Telegrass defendants conspired in an NIS 30 million scheme to distribute not only marijuana, but a range of other drugs, including pushing hard to target minors.

More than 3,000 drug dealers were being run by the 27 masterminds and larger dealers, with each handling at least 250 minor-drug dealers.

The illegal drugs were sold to around 200,000 persons, including a large but unknown number of minors, said the indictment.

In March, the Israel Police arrested more than 40 drug dealers after an undercover agent infiltrated the app-based weed delivery service.

Throughout the past nine months, police conducted a covert investigation into drug dealers’ illegal sales on Telegrass.

The service was supposed to provide anonymity to dealers and buyers.

The Telegrass community, a sub-category of the encrypted messaging application Telegram, was founded by Amos Dov Silver, an ex-haredi Israeli.


It was designed to facilitate drug – mostly marijuana – exchanges and deliveries between buyers and sellers, and requires dealers to provide their ID number, cell number and a short video of themselves to sign up.

Buyers are also required to disclose private information about themselves to participate. Once buyers find a dealer with whom they wish to conduct business, they will hand over their ID number, as well as their cell phone number, Facebook profile and a selfie of themselves.

During the investigation, the agent gained the trust of the suspects. Police caught the dealers at the stage of “ordering drugs and coordinating shipments” on Telegrass.

“During the operation, I bought all types of drugs: ecstasy, cocaine, MD [ecstasy], LSD, marijuana and hash according to instructions from my handler,” the agent said.

This was a key turning point as Telegrass has said that the case against them is an attempt to fight marijuana distribution, but the indictment states that Telegrass went far beyond just marijuana.

“This morning we will wake up to a new day, with less drug dealers, around 50 less, because tonight we will successfully limit their operations,” said Peretz Amar, commander of the coastal district in a video released by the police in March. “Using undercover operatives is an important and useful tool.”

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