A major drugs trade network run by national-religious and haredi men and centered in the radical ultra-Orthodox neighborhood of Mea Shearim in Jerusalem and Ramat Beit Shemesh has been revealed and broken by an undercover police officer in the Jerusalem Police Force.
News of the drugs ring was revealed by the police on Tuesday.
The investigation involved many months of undercover work by the agent involved and led to the arrest by police, detectives and border police forces in the early hours of Tuesday morning of 45 suspects in Jerusalem, Beit Shemesh, the central region and Judea and Samaria, who bought and sold drugs and weapons to the police agent who worked among them. Two minors between the ages of 15 and 17 were among those arrested.
Following information collected by the Jerusalem police about drug trade activity in Mea Shearim two years ago, it was decided to send an undercover police agent to pose as a haredi man and to assimilate within haredi society and penetrate the criminal underworld that had been established.
The investigative and intelligence unit of the Jerusalem Police then identified an appropriate religious individual to carry out the role, and after several months of training, including guidance in criminal slang, concepts with the criminal world, required behavior, body language, and speech, the agent began work in Mea Shearim.
From what he experienced, the agent said he quickly discerned that there was “a Mea Shearim of the day and a Mea Shearim of the night,” and that with nightfall came an active trade in drugs in the many kiosks and narrow alleys of the famously austere and pious haredi neighborhood.
The agent successfully integrated into the haredi society in Mea Shearim, and under police supervision, began to buy different types of drugs, including marijuana, hashish, ecstasy, and Cocaine.
He was also able to buy a stolen vehicle along with various firearms from two Arabs working in the neighborhood from Hebron working in Jerusalem without permits.
After operating in Mea Shearim for several months, the agent switched to work in the haredi population living in Ramat Beit Shemesh, a predominantly haredi, and in parts radical set of neighborhood of Beit Shemesh.
According to the agent, there was a particularly vigilant criminal cell in the neighborhood which was extremely suspicious of police activity although he eventually managed to penetrate it as well.
Once accepted, he carried out drug acquisitions from drug traders in Ramat Beit Shemesh, buying several dozen kilograms of hashish, ecstasy and cocaine, totalling several hundred thousands shekels in value.
He was once again also able to purchase a stolen vehicle, two modified Karl Gustav sub-machine guns and an M-16 assault rifle.
His work in Beit Shemesh incriminated 60 drug dealers, some of whom were major criminal targets for the Police’s National Unit for International Crime Investigations.
“This was a very complex operation, among an experienced criminal cell which was very suspicious of the police,” said Jerusalem Police head Deputy Commissioner Moshe Edri.
“The agent’s professional training from experienced detectives, along with the his learning abilities, resourcefulness and belief in the justness of this mission led to incrimination of 60 suspects and their removal from the general public, for the sake of the security of residents of the neighborhoods of Mea Shearim and Ramat Beit Shemesh and the security of all residents of Jerusalem,” added Edri.
The agent himself said that he hoped his work would bring security and quiet to the residents of the two communities he worked amongst and that thus far innocent people would be prevented from falling into the criminal world.
“As it says in the [Biblical] Book of Deuteronomy, ‘you shall destroy the evil in your midst,’ and I am hopeful that we will learn how to maintain the good and eliminate the bad in order to create a better society,” he said.