Police seize 104 kg of cocaine in Haifa

Drugs found in shipping container at port worth $15m; police: Bust "will dry out the market."

cocaine israel 224 88 (photo credit: Israel Police)
cocaine israel 224 88
(photo credit: Israel Police)
Police and customs officials intercepted the largest shipment of drugs in Israeli law enforcement history last month, capturing 104 kilograms of uncut pure cocaine hidden in containers of Colombian coffee beans which arrived in Haifa's seaport, police announced on Sunday. The cocaine was divided into 96 cubes and stashed into three sacks, and police say the enormous batch contained a very-high-quality form of the drug. After dealers mixed the cocaine with other chemicals to maximize its weight thereby increasing its street value, the drugs would have been worth an estimated $15 million, police said. The seizure will "prevent the distribution of drugs among dealers and will dry out the market, keeping the drugs away from hundreds of youths," Lt.-Cmdr. Roni Atiya, commander of the Coastal Plain District Police said. "In recent years, there has been an increase in attempts to smuggle drugs though seaports and therefore special preparations have been made by Coastal Plain police. There is ongoing cooperation with customs and police intelligence," he added. Police arrested and then released eight suspects in connection with the seizure. The suspects - all from Umm el-Fahm - included three members of one family who own the import company which ordered the coffee shipment. "No evidence was found to link the suspects with the drugs," a police spokesman explained. The spokesman added that an investigation was underway to locate who in Israel ordered the drugs, saying that Israeli police officers have established contact with their Colombian counterparts as part of that effort. Customs officials became suspicious of the shipment after examining it closely using a specialized profiling technique. They contacted police, who brought in sniffer dogs which led them to the drugs. Most of the cocaine that reaches Israel typically arrives from South America via Israel's sea and airports. Heroin is usually smuggled in from Jordan, while cannabis mostly comes through Egypt. On Friday, police arrested a 36-year-old Beduin from the Negev near the Dead Sea in possession of 13 kilograms of heroin and 41,000 ecstasy pills. Police and the IDF earlier this year seized over 30 kilograms of heroin on the Lebanese border, the largest quantity of that drug ever to be seized.