Ben-Gurion Airport's Terminal 3 arrivals hall.
(photo credit: GEORGEDEMENT/FLICKR-WIKIPEDIA CREATIVE COMMONS)
Police arrested six people and detained eight others for questioning on Monday on suspicion of belonging to a smuggling network that brought hundreds of Georgian workers into Israel through Ben-Gurion Airport.
Other suspected offenses carried out by network members include bribery, fraud, breach of trust, conspiracy to commit a crime and violations of the Entry into Israel Law.
The investigation, carried out by Israel Police’s anti-corruption unit Lahav 433 and the economic department of the State Attorney’s Office, traced the members of the network’s smuggling activities over a long, but unspecified period of time.
Members of the network included employees of companies contracted to provide services to the airport, police said, who acted in an organized manner to bypass Ben-Gurion Airport’s security mechanisms and smuggle Georgian citizens into the country without passing through passport control.
“Each of the network members had a specific role to assist in smuggling in return for money, while acting to disguise their actions from the eyes of enforcement authorities,” police said in a statement. “The Israel Police will use all the means at its disposal to expose offenses that directly affect civilian safety, in order to bring the perpetrators to justice.”
A senior security official at Ben-Gurion Airport said that the smuggling operation had not caused any damage to the airport’s security processes, but rather resulted from company employees who betrayed the trust of their employers to conduct criminal activity.
“The Israel Airports Authority, through Ben-Gurion Airport’s anti-crime unit, identified the attempt to smuggle foreign workers from Georgia and passed the information to intelligence officials and Israel Police,” said the official.
“Throughout the entire [investigation] period, security staff and the anti-crime unit operated shoulder to shoulder with the Israel Police. Ben-Gurion Airport is a huge city, and when a breach is discovered it will be closed. This breach can occur in any organization, and tomorrow it could be commercial espionage in any company, and the day after in any enforcement authority in Israel or anywhere else.”
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