Cops in Tiberias make 'major' drugs bust

Bust worth NIS 1m. deals blow to Ecstasy, "Hagigat" trade; two suspects arrested, remand extended.

Drugs Bust (370) (photo credit: Courtesy)
Drugs Bust (370)
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Police in the northern district on Tuesday seized a package of raw amphetamines they said was to be used to make over a million shekels worth of ecstasy and the kiosk drug hagigat (made from khat, orcatha edulis leaves).
At the center of the case are two Tiberias brothers, one a 30-year-old cab driver with a small-time criminal record and the other a 19- year-old IDF soldier. Both are suspected of receiving two separate packages from India containing a total of 11 kilos of mephadrone,” a key component in the cooking of Hagigat and non-MDMA (methylendioxymethamphetamine, a synthetic drug with stimulant and hallucinogenic properties) forms of ecstasy.
Police were tipped-off last month when a package arrived at customs from Chennai on the eastern coast of India that aroused their suspicion. The package was wrapped in cloth and tied with rope, and inside, tucked beneath packages of pasta, dried noodles and stir fry, was a substance that was sent to a lab by customs officials and tested positive for mephadrone.
At this point customs officials contacted investigators from the northern branch of the YAMAR investigative unit, who lay in wait at the post office for the suspects to arrive.
After the two suspects arrived at the post office on Tuesday, police followed them to a second post office, where they reportedly picked up an additional package from the Far East that police did not know was on its way.
Officers then flipped on the sirens and brought the two suspects in. The soldier was handed over to military police.
According to Commander Michael Shifshak, head of the northern branch of YAMAR, mephadrone is shipped to Israel and combined with other chemicals at Israeli labs to cook up “made in Israel” party drugs. Shifshak said that neither of the two suspects was known to be involved in drug trafficking before the arrest was made.
The YAMAR officer said that while he doesn’t know if the seizure will lead to any sort of shortage in the market for ecstasy or the cheap party drug hagigat – a powdered speed widely available in pill form at kiosks in Tel Aviv – the bust still constitutes a major drug seizure and a blow to the drug market in Israel.
The Safed Magistrate’s Court has extended the brother’s remand by eight days.