heroin seizure 224.88.
(photo credit: Channel 2)
Some 33 kilograms of heroin were seized by an elite police force on Tuesday morning, marking the country's largest drug bust to date.
Two Arab-Israeli men in their 20s were arrested by officers from the Lebanon Border Unit, a specialty anti-smuggling force set up at the start of the year.
Speaking to The Jerusalem Post, Police Supt. Ami Mualem, commander of the Lebanon Border Unit, stressed that the operation was not related to an earlier arrest of an IDF non-commissioned officer and two civilians allegedly involved in a heroin-smuggling ring that had contacts with Hizbullah.
"This is a separate operation," Mualem said. "At 7 a.m. this morning our officers arrested the two suspects and apprehended 33 kg. of heroin," he added.
While Mualem shied away from addressing claims publicized in Yediot Aharonot, according to which "Nasrallah is trying to poison Israel" with heroin, he did note that "since the beginning of the year, the unit [has] encountered a major increase in the quantity of heroin heading for Israel."
Asked if the increase was limited to hard drugs such as heroin, Mualem said "there's no such thing as light drugs. Every drug is major. We have seen a clear increase in heroin smuggling."
"The Lebanon Border Unit works with the IDF, and uses ambushes and special vantage points to stem the flow of drugs into the country," Mualem said.
The Lebanon Border Unit was created at roughly the same time as the Magen special police force, which operates on the Jordanian and Egyptian borders to target cross-border drugs and arms smuggling.
Magen is one of the first police units to work with Air Force Black Hawk helicopters, which provide the unit with an aerial advantage over fleeing drug smugglers.