Two grandmothers were arrested in Ashkelon on Tuesday morning for allegedly peddling large amounts of heroin to other drug dealers in the South.
The arrests came a few hours after Ashkelon police detectives received intelligence on a 68-year-old woman said to be heavily involved in the heroin trade.
A subsequent police raid on her home uncovered 43 grams of heroin stashed in a shoe that had been placed in a cupboard - 100 times more than the amount of heroin defined by law as enough for personal use, a crime that carries a far less severe penalty.
During her interrogation, the suspect allegedly incriminated a second woman involved in the heroin network, leading officers to launch a second raid in Ashkelon to arrest a 63-year-old grandmother.
Both women have been accused by police of supplying hundreds of thousands of shekels worth of the drug to "drug stations" - apartments in which dealers divide up the goods and often add other chemicals to increase their street value - in Ashkelon and the surrounding areas.
"The 68-year-old suspect has no criminal background. She works as a cleaner, servicing private homes. She wanted to increase her income, since the funds from her pension were insufficient," a Lachish Subdistrict Police source told The Jerusalem Post.
During one of her cleaning jobs, the 68-year-old woman met the second suspect, who suggested a novel way for her to earn extra cash.
"She told her, 'I'll get you drugs, and you sell them on,'" the police source said.
"She was told she would be selling the stuff to drug dealers, not individual buyers. She started selling the drugs in large quantities, not only in Ashkelon but in surrounding communities. She broadened her network over the past few months and became a real wholesale heroin supplier," the source added.
Police said they did not yet know how much of the drug the women had peddled between them to other dealers, but said that the quantity was huge.
Each unit or "hit" of heroin costs NIS 50, and the 68-year-old woman is suspected of earning approximately NIS 30,000 a month, the police source estimated.
Police will attempt to gather evidence against dealers who purchased the drugs.
The elder of the two suspects "was not surprised" when officers showed up at her home, the source added, saying, "She expressed regret."
Selling heroin carries a 20-year maximum jail penalty.