Ron Tomer 311.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
In an alley in east Jerusalem late last week, an undercover police agent
prepared to meet members of a sophisticated gang of thieves.
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earlier, in November, five gang members allegedly broke into a pharmaceutical
plant shared by drug-makers Unipharm Ltd. and Trima Israel Pharmaceutical
Products Maabarot Ltd. in Emek Hefer, and stole hundreds of thousands of shekels
worth of medicines.
Several days ago, the gang allegedly planned to
reintroduce the medicine into the market, without any assurance that it had been
stored correctly and had not gone bad.
After agreeing on a six-figure
price, the “salesman” representing the suspects told the undercover agent that
he would fetch the stolen medicines.
Nearby, masked Border Police
officers were waiting in ambush, and a police helicopter flew just out of
hearing and sight of the meeting.
When the suspect returned with the
goods, officers moved in with guns drawn, and the helicopter swooped overhead to
The operation was overseen by the Special Section of the
Jerusalem Police’s Central Unit.
Ron Tomer, director-general of Unipharm,
told The Jerusalem Post
on Sunday that the raid was the culmination of an
outstanding joint effort involving the police, the Health Ministry’s
Pharmaceutical Crimes Unit, and his own company.
He added that the
phenomena of stolen medicines, which are not stored properly by criminals, and
forged medicines, which can contain hazardous chemicals that harm peoples’
health, are most dangerous in instances when the drugs find their way into
legitimate pharmacies without the pharmacists’ knowledge.
Some of the
stolen products also find their way to clandestine drug labs, where they are
converted into street drugs.
“Pharmaceutical crime is very lucrative for
criminals, because they can take hundreds of thousands of shekels worth of
medicines in a box, which would be the equivalent of a truckload of plasma TV
screens,” Tomer said.
“That’s why we are always a target for
Pharmaceutical manufacturers across Israel are routinely the
target of complex break-ins. But thanks to last week’s raid, all of the drugs
stolen from the Unipharm/Trima plant have been retrieved. They will be sent to a
Unipharm storage facility, where they will be destroyed to protect public
“We invest in many methods to prevent break-ins, but they
constantly try,” Tomer said. “It was very important for us to track down the
stolen drugs and destroy them, to make sure that no one would purchase
“If stolen drugs are sold in a shuk or a kiosk, that worries me
less, because the user is a little bit responsible for risking his health. The
problem is that the thieves try to reintroduce the medicines into the formal
supply chain, and they’re trying to entice middlemen,” he said.
manufacturers such as Unipharm, and the Health Ministry’s Pharmaceutical Crimes
Unit, have been trying to push for legislation that would significantly increase
scrutiny of the medicine market.
“We’ve only had partial success at
present,” Tomer said.
A Sharon Police spokesman said five suspects were
in custody and were being questioned.
“The investigation is continuing,”