TA police arrest 21 drug dealers in Jaffa sting

"You just have to stick to your story," says undercover cop about experiences during 8-month operation.

UNDERCOVER TEL Aviv Police agent ‘D’,  (photo credit: Ben Hartman)
UNDERCOVER TEL Aviv Police agent ‘D’,
(photo credit: Ben Hartman)
Months into a deep undercover drug investigation in Jaffa, a dealer grabbed police agent “D” and threw him inside a doorway, screaming that he knew he was a cop. D said he didn’t sweat or fear for his life; instead he fell into the training he’d learned months earlier before being deployed by the Tel Aviv District Police.
“I just kept my cool, yelled back at him some, and managed to calm the situation,” he said. “You just have to stick to your story and do your best to calm the situation. This was all covered in my training.”
Speaking to reporters at the Tel Aviv police headquarters on Tuesday, D recounted how he spent eight months heading an undercover sting that resulted in the arrest of 21 drug dealers in Jaffa and Lod on Tuesday.
His story began when he joined the police after finishing his army service in the paratroopers, and was quickly recruited for a mission his commanders wouldn’t explain.
Saying his superiors had “made me an offer I couldn’t refuse,” the 27-year-old married father of a four-year- old girl told his family he’d be spending the next few months doing police work in the Center, and left their home in the North for Jaffa.
His commanders then put him through a months-long training course before setting him up in a rental apartment in Jaffa. They gave him a back story, and he began slowly building trust among locals, telling them he was a thief dealing in stolen property.
“You have a story to tell people, and you have to stick to it and make them believe you,” D said. “You have to visit these places in the neighborhood and spend time with people, and eventually you build up a double life.”
He added that he had begun to gain people’s trust just by living in the neighborhood, passing the time with them at a kiosk or drinking coffee with them down on the corner.
D also spoke Tuesday of his childhood in the Ukraine, where he lived until the age of 12. When he was a young boy, he said, his father worked as an agent for the Ukrainian police in the years after the breakup of the Soviet Union, when the former satellite became overrun with violence and organized crime. He said his father would be gone for days or weeks at a time, always with the understanding that he was off doing police work, and no further questions were to be asked.
Over the eight months in Jaffa, D made around 40 street-level purchases of heroin and cocaine, usually only a gram or so at a time.
His commanders recorded the purchases, which led to the dealers’ arrests in a series of sweeps by police detectives, YASSAM officers, and Border Police on Tuesday morning.
After months of living in a world far different than the one he grew up in, D was on his way back to the North on Tuesday, where he will return to his regular police duties, and to seeing his wife and daughter on a daily basis.
Asked if he ever built up any empathy for the people to whom he became close and then had arrested, D thought for a moment and said, “A lot of times they’re normal people, normal people with families just like you and me. A lot of times they’re victims of all of this world, too.”