Prosecutors on Thursday filed charges against a group of four young women accused of attempting to smuggle millions of shekels worth of drugs into the country.
Arbel Mizrahi, 24, of Tel Aviv, Idan Tsauber, 24, of Kfar Saba, Orel Ben Haim, 24 of Kfar Saba, and Lee Poni, 22, of Kiryat Gat, allegedly attempted to bring 15 kilograms of cocaine and ketamine into Israel from Berlin and Budapest on multiple occasions between September 2022 and January 2023.
“The group, each one according to their role, represented a significant link in the chain of drug smuggling,” prosecutor Gabi Pe’er said as he asked the the court to order the suspects remain in custody until the end of legal proceedings.
The women were arrested on January 15 after arriving on two separate flights, with their luggage searched by customs officials.
According to the indictment, drugs were found concealed inside a Sony Playstation console, shampoo bottles and skin care products. The suspects all claimed they were unaware they had drugs in their possession.
“After preparations, they flew overseas with the purpose of importing dangerous drugs which were concealed in their luggage in various ways, all for financial payment,” Pe’er said.
“The group’s danger is also evidenced by multiple previous attempts to import drugs… on an international scale,” he added.
While the drugs seized at the time of the women’s arrest had an estimated value of approximately NIS 2 million ($588,000), the indictment said the type and quantity of drugs imported in earlier operations were unknown.
Prosecutors alleged that the smuggling operation was coordinated by Mizrahi, who recruited her three co-conspirators at the behest of a drug lord inside Israel, who police said they are working to locate.
The group was allegedly offered NIS 30,000 ($8,800) as payment for their services, and an additional NIS 3,000 ($880) to cover travel expenses.
According to text messages obtained by the prosecution, the suspects alternated between openly discussing their illicit activities while at other times using the word “horse” as a codeword for the drugs, the Ynet news site reported.
The Kan public broadcaster cited an unnamed official as saying that the four young women were all active drug users and had spent more than NIS 100,000 ($29,300) combined on drugs they consumed themselves.
Earlier this week, police confirmed that the group had been placed under surveillance before departing for Germany.