Alleged ringleader indicted in case of Georgians smuggled into Israel
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Alleged ringleader indicted in case of Georgians smuggled into Israel

David Cohen from Rishon Lezion suspected of heading network that illegally brought workers into the country through Ben Gurion Airport

Illustrative: People standing in line to go through passport control at Ben Gurion International Airport in Israel. (Yossi Zamir/Flash90)
Illustrative: People standing in line to go through passport control at Ben Gurion International Airport in Israel. (Yossi Zamir/Flash90)

Prosecutors filed an indictment Monday against a key suspect in an alleged smuggling ring thought to have illegally brought hundreds of Georgian citizens into the country by sneaking them past Ben Gurion Airport’s passport control.

David Cohen, 44, of Rishon Lezion was charged with fraud, violating the country’s entry laws, obstructing justice, hindering an investigation and conspiracy to commit a crime, police said in a statement.

Court papers named Cohen as the head of a network that included employees of the country’s main international airport.

Smugglers would allegedly travel to Georgia and then return at the same time as those seeking illegal entry. The would-be infiltrators were shown videos before they traveled explaining to them how, with the assistance of operatives in the airport, they could slip past passport control via the outsize luggage processing system.

As part of the ruse, the Georgians were given airport worker uniforms — complete with identity tags — to use as disguises, Channel 12 news reported.

A waiting taxi outside the airport would then spirit the Georgians away to an apartment in the city of Lod, from which they would be taken to work illegally in other locations around the country.

Police revealed last month that an undercover operation by its Lahav 433 fraud unit had over the previous few months tracked down the suspected smuggling network.

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