An undercover rookie policeman has helped identify 20 drug dealers in the Sharon region, all of whom were arrested in raids early on Monday morning.
The policeman joined the force just six months ago and was plunged in to the operation after only a month of training, keeping the nature of his work secret from his family and friends, said Superintendent Yaron Ahcark.
Sagi, as the policemen is known, carried out "commercial-sized" transactions in public parks, roads and stairwells with the dealers. The 25 year old bought heroin, cocaine, ecstasy and hashish while other policemen took photographs and ensured his safety.
The climax of the operation came when 140 detectives and border policemen raided homes across the region, including in Netanya, Taiba, Rosh Ha'ayin, Kfar Saba and Petah Tikva. In addition to making the arrests, the police confiscated a small amount of drugs, two cars and NIS 16,000. The suspects, most of whom are not connected to one another, were brought before Kfar Saba Magistrates Court and remanded in custody for four days.
However, the bust is unlikely to make a huge dent in the local drugs markets, said Ahcark.
"It has an effect in the short term," he said. "But there are always new people who come in to fill the demand that exists in the market."
Sagi said he only revealed the true nature of his work to his family on Sunday night, when he took them to a police station for his induction ceremony.
"I am happy and feel very relieved. For the last six months, I have lived in a sort of film, lying to my parents and friends, and to the criminals that I worked with," he said.
"They didn't have a clue. They didn't even know where I lived. For work, I lived in Netanya, but everyone thought I lived in Tel Aviv, that I worked and learned there," he said. "Every time somebody phoned me to ask to visit, I told them that I wasn't at home." When Sagi took his mother to the induction, where he received a pistol and a certificate, she originally thought he was leading her to a surprise party for her birthday. She was astonished to hear the truth.
"I thought that he worked in security in Tel Aviv, that he was a guard for organizations or criminals," said Sagi's mother, who is using the alias Anat.
"It was exciting, because we didn't know he had these abilities, of knowing how to be an actor, of living a different life from that which he lived at home," she added.
As the truth has begun to sink in, Anat said she had started to worry about Sagi, although he said he wasn't afraid when working undercover.
"You aren't afraid but you are cautious, as you don't want to show any fear. You don't want to end the job because you have been exposed, you want to end it after you have successfully brought down the criminals," he said.
"Somebody who is naturally afraid can't do a job like this," he added.
Sagi also said that his inexperience showed through at times, although it was because he was new to the force that he was sent undercover.
"Somebody with more experience can not act as a drug dealer in the field, as he is already a policeman who has worn a uniform. People know who he is and he can't do the job properly," he said.