Court extends custody of 4 suspects for trying to smuggle drugs worth millions

Four women in their 20s allegedly tried to bring 15 kilos of cocaine and ketamine into Israel last week

Four women suspected of trying to smuggle cocaine and ketamine into Israel, pictured at a hearing at the Rishon Lezion Magistrate's Court on January 22, 2023. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)
Four women suspected of trying to smuggle cocaine and ketamine into Israel, pictured at a hearing at the Rishon Lezion Magistrate's Court on January 22, 2023. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

The Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s Court on Sunday extended by eight days the remand of four women suspected of attempting to smuggle into Israel over 15 kilograms (33 pounds) of cocaine and ketamine worth millions of shekels.

The court also allowed the identity of the four to be revealed: Idan Tsauber (24) and Orel Ben Haim (24) of Kfar Saba, Arbel Mizrahi (24) of Tel Aviv, and Lee Poni (22) of Kiryat Gat.

Police said the women had raised suspicions while on a pair of flights from Germany to Ben Gurion Airport last week, with detectives tracking them after their arrival in the country last Sunday night.

According to Hebrew media reports, police were tipped off in advance that a group of young women were on their way to Israel with a large quantity of drugs. Detectives suspected the women were the mules they had been warned about after analyzing their movements as they went through customs.

While inspecting the luggage of three of the women, officers uncovered a large amount of suspected cocaine and ketamine hidden in shampoo containers and food supplement packages, leading to their arrests. The substances were taken to a police lab for testing.

The fourth woman managed to leave the airport with a suitcase of suspected illicit drugs, and was detained outside with her boyfriend and another person on suspicion of trying to hide the drugs, the Kan public broadcaster reported.

A police inspection of luggage of suspects who allegedly tried to smuggle 15 kilograms of cocaine and ketamine into Israel, at Ben Gurion Airport, January 15, 2023. (Israel Police)

According to several media outlets, investigators managed to pick out a weak link among the suspects and questioned her separately.

Kan said the suspect revealed to police that the four were promised NIS 50,000 ($15,000) for the job. Channel 12 reported that she told investigators that the group took two separate flights so that if one of them were arrested, the others could be notified.

It was also reported that some of the suspects were previously involved in drug smuggling.

Attorney Leah Felus Domb, who represents Tsauber, said her client claims “she was at the wrong place at the wrong time” and did not know what she was carrying.

Lee Poni’s cousin, Avivit Megidish, wrote in an Instagram post Sunday that Poni “has always been a good kid. We don’t know if [it’s true] and what led the girls to such a situation.”

She added: “My aunt is crushed. She never dreamed her daughter would be in the headlines for something like this.”

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