The work of an undercover police agent operating in the insular ultra-Orthodox Jerusalem neighborhood of Mea Shearim and in the Haredi neighborhoods of Beit Shemesh has led to the arrests of 45 suspects involved in trafficking of drugs and illegal firearms, police revealed Tuesday.
More arrests are expected in the coming days.
The agent, himself a member of a Haredi family from Jerusalem, was recruited to the Jerusalem District’s undercover agent unit two years ago. He studied in a Jerusalem yeshiva.
According to police, he infiltrated the Mea Shearim community, and after gaining the trust of felons there procured drugs, including marijuana, hashish, hydrocodone, ecstasy and cocaine. He also managed to buy a stolen car from the criminal network.
Besides the Haredi network, two Palestinians who worked illegally in businesses in the neighborhood offered to sell him unregistered guns.
The agent was then transferred to Ramat Beit Shemesh, an ultra-Orthodox neighborhood of Beit Shemesh, where he began to fear the traffickers he was following would discover he was working for the police.
In Ramat Beit Shemesh he succeeded in procuring even larger amounts of drugs, including “dozens of kilograms” of controlled substances at a cost of hundreds of thousands of shekels, police said. He also bought a stolen car, two Karl Gustav machine guns, an M-16 assault rifle likely stolen from an IDF base, and ammunition for the firearms.
The agent worked in the Haredi community for 18 months. He incriminated 60 drug dealers, 45 of whom were arrested. One suspect was a resident of southern Israel who was studying in a yeshiva in Jerusalem after a court allowed him to do so as an alternative to serving prison time for drug offenses he had committed in the south.
The agent said Monday that the drug scene in Mea Shearim, which became active late at night, amounted to a parallel society. There was “Mea Shearim of the night,” he said, and a very different “Mea Shearim of the daytime.”
He described his work there as “a highly complex operation, in territories which are suspicious of police.” Many of the residents of the small Jerusalem neighborhood are anti-Zionist and avoid dealings with official Israeli institutions, including the police.
The agent was chosen because he was “a good kid, a young-‘un who never had any ties to the criminal world,” his handlers were quoted by the NRG news site as saying. The agent had to be taught the jargon used by felons, the body language, typical conduct and dress code common in the criminal networks, and then needed help making inroads with the traffickers.
At a Monday ceremony, Jerusalem Police chief Menashe Edri gave the agent his police officer’s badge and private firearm. He praised the agent’s work.
“His professional training by experienced detectives, together with his ability to learn, his resourcefulness and his faith in the right path helped incriminate 60 suspects and to distance them from the general population, for the security of the residents of Mea Shearim and Ramat Beit Shemesh and all the residents of Jerusalem,” Edri said.
The agent thanked his handlers, saying, “As it says in the book of Deuteronomy, ‘Thou shalt put the evil away from among you.’ I hope that we will learn to do good and put the evil away from among us for a better society.”