Drug task force makes massive drug bust in Arava

Police seize 19.6 kg of cocaine, 43 kg of heroin valued at NIS 10 million, catch Beduin running contraband in Mazda 6 near Jordan.

Samar sand dunes, north of Eilat 311 (photo credit: Uri Shanan)
Samar sand dunes, north of Eilat 311
(photo credit: Uri Shanan)
An anti-drug police task force seized a massive haul of more than 63 kg. of cocaine and heroin on Tuesday night after an undercover raid on smugglers near the Jordanian border.
Police said the seizure included 19.6 kg. of cocaine and 43 kg. of heroin, with a street value of more than NIS 10 million.
The arrest took place after undercover officers stopped three Beduin driving a car full of contraband in the southern Arava desert region.
The suspects, who are residents of the Ramat Hovav area, were brought for remand at the Beersheba Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday. The court extended their remand by 5 days.
Police believe that one of the suspects, a 66-year-old man, ran the smuggling ring.
MAGAN unit commander Supt. Noam Kaiser said police knew the suspects well and have been following them and their activities for several years.
In previous seizures of this size, the suspects received sentences of around 8 to 15 years, depending on their prior criminal record, Kaiser said. While it is a massive seize, they seized 70 kg. of heroin in 2010, and they caught smugglers trafficking 82 kg. of the drug in 2008, he added.
According to the commander, up until a few years ago there was a very clear allocation of smuggling. Clans in Sinai would smuggle marijuana and hashish while those in Jordan would traffic cocaine and heroin into Israel.
Over the past year they have seen more and more hard drugs coming by way of Sinai, which he said can be linked to the outbreak of upheaval in Egypt in January 2011. Since then, there has been no authority to challenge the control that Beduin gangs have over Sinai, Kaiser said.
“They are the law and order there now,” he added.