Drug smugglers in southern Israel who are suspected of impersonating IDF army border patrols to transport drugs from Egypt have been arrested in a police operation.
Over the weekend, a large number police raided the Bedouin town Bir Hadaj, with helicopters and sniffer dogs, to recover equipment stolen from the IDF.
Police officers discovered two army jeeps, IDF helmets and uniforms, night-vision binoculars, walkie-talkies, along with weapons and ammunition, Hadashot news reported.
They also found greenhouses for cultivating marijuana. Several suspects have been arrested.
Based on intelligence reports, police suspect the smugglers would impersonate troops patrolling the Egyptian border, and would receive shipments of drugs from across the border.
The gang numbered some 20 individuals, and most of their equipment had been stolen from army bases.
“Since the construction of the fence along the border with Egypt, they have been using tools stolen from IDF bases to disguise their smuggling,” a police officer told Hadashot TV. “Over time their methods have improved: they use very sophisticated technological equipment like binoculars for night vision.”
Bir Hadaj is only about 20 minutes from the border, and has long been known to police as a drug-smuggling site. The gang would store the marijuana before distributing it to dealers throughout the country, according to the report.
However, one of the smugglers told Hadashot TV that the raid and confiscation of equipment would not put an end to drug-smuggling in the area.
“We have enough means and money to smuggle cannabis and marijuana out of Egypt, and we have more military equipment that the police did not catch,” he told the news station. “The police will not prevent us from our smuggling.”