Police arrest dozens of gun dealers in Western Galilee raids
Raids follow long-term undercover operation; 34 suspects include 11 members of single family.
By BEN HARTMAN
Police on Thursday announced the arrest of nearly three dozen illegal firearms dealers during raids in Arab villages throughout the Western Galilee Wednesday night.Police said the raids followed a long-term operation in which an undercover agent won the trust of a number of weapons dealers in the Galilee and allegedly purchased dozens of illegal firearms, including pistols, submachine guns, grenades and explosives.The 34 suspects arrested included 11 members of a single family from Kfar Kabul. All 34 were brought before the Acre Magistrate’s Court on Thursday, where their remand was extended by six days.Police said the undercover agent paid between NIS 12,000 to 17,000 for each firearm, which were often purchased in public places and tested in built-up areas. Ballistics tests have determined that some of the weapons were used in violent crimes in Israel, police added.Police said that initial examinations of the firearms indicate that a large portion of the weapons were stolen in Lebanon, Egypt, and Jordan and smuggled to Israel. The rest were stolen from houses during burglaries in Israel. Police said that because of the make and models of the firearms, they do not believe they were stolen from IDF bases.In recent months, police have stepped up efforts to crack down on firearms crime, efforts they say have led to a 50 percent drop in gun-related crime in the Carmiel police district alone.The Galilee has in recent months been the epicenter of police efforts to fight illegal firearms. Earlier in April, police announced that approximately 1,200 illegal firearms had been seized in the Galilee in recent months.Galilee District Commander Menahem Haver said Thursday “we in theGalilee district are working on all fronts in order to deal with thewidening phenomenon [of illegal firearm use] and are achieving greatsuccess.“All the units of the northern police are workingtogether to fight this phenomenon. Firearms in the hands of criminalsare later used in shootings involving innocent civilians or as a meansto intimidate law enforcement and public officials. The responsibilityis in our hands to break this chain and bring the offenders to justice.”AlsoThursday, Sharon District Police announced the seizure of severalfirearms, including an AK-47, an UZI, and a Carl Gustov assault rifleduring a raid on a home in Kfar Qassem. During the raid, policearrested two local residents, aged 20 and 30.
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