Family vacation provides cover for would-be drug smugglers

Beduin wannabe drug dealers busted during return from Sinai.

Sinai Peninsula (brown, naturey) 521 (photo credit: WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)
Sinai Peninsula (brown, naturey) 521
(photo credit: WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)
A family vacation provided the cover for a drug smuggling couple returning from a vacation in Sinai.
Police said the operation last week showed the lengths to which smuggling tribes are turning to bypass the new border fence on the Egyptian border.
Police said a husband and wife aged 27 and 29, respectively, from a Beduin settlement in the Tel Sheva area next to Beersheba had been vacationing in Sinai with two of their young children.
Smugglers offered them NIS 15,000 to load their car with hashish before their return to Israel.
When they arrived at the border crossing, customs authorities contacted the police’s MAGEN antismuggling unit and the Eilat Police, who searched the car and found 26.6 kg. of hashish crammed in dozens of packages inside the gas tank.
Ch.-Insp. Noam Kaiser, commander of MAGEN, said that the unit had seen a number of instances in the past where people tried to smuggle cocaine and heroin into Israel through border crossings with Jordan, but that last week’s incident was the first time in recent memory that such an attempt was stopped on the Egyptian border.
Meant to stop the influx of illegal migrants, the 235-km. border fence that was finished last year has put a crunch on the drug market in Israel. While significant shortages in the hash market were felt before the fence was built, today it has helped drive the price of a 10-gram “finger” of the substance – which cost from NIS 200 to NIS 300 a few years ago – to NIS 500 and higher.
Hashish was traditionally smuggled through Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, but in recent months, police have caught traffickers coming from Jordan on routes that previously had been used for cocaine, heroin and firearms.
The fence and the success of the MAGEN unit and Border Police undercover officers have not dried up the drug game entirely for the smuggling tribes in the south, who have made their living through contraband for generations upon generations. It has, however, forced them to devise new methods, including using ladders to scale the fence, sending smaller shipments on motorcycles and then tossing them over the fence, and, as last week indicated, using cars of Israeli visitors returning from Sinai.