Israeli police detectives and customs officials are currently looking into the largest drug smuggling case in the country's history. Authorities, who have also been cooperating with law enforcement officials in Peru and other Latin American countries, thus far seized almost a ton and a half of cocaine worth NIS 2 billion (roughly $500 million.)
A police source said "there is no doubt this will temporarily dry up the Israeli illicit drug market."
Largest case in Israel's history (Photo: Peru Police)
The smuggling ring uncovered by police is allegedly headed by 40-year-old Moshe Algarbeli, a former soccer referee nicknamed "the referee." He is believed to have cooperated with 51-year-old Moris Abdelhak, nicknamed "the welder," as he was in charge of hiding the drugs inside pieces of heavy machinery. He has been held in Peru for a week now.
Meanwhile, Algarbeli's whereabouts are unknown at this time. He is believed to have escaped to Europe.
The probe into the case has been going on for almost four months. A police official told Ynet the drug ring was established under guise of a vegetable importation business. Ring members would apparently purchase the drugs in Latin America and send it to the Middle East and Europe. A Peruvian shipping company was also apparently involved in the operation.
Head of the coastal sub-district of the Israel Police, Roni Atiya, characterized the suspects as "devoid of any morals or values." He noted that some suspects in the case are members of well-known crime organizations.
Thus far, a total of seven people were detained in connection with the case, five of them in Peru and two in Israel.