An Arab criminal turned undercover agent spent over a year deep in the organized crime world.
By Paul Shindman, World Israel News
In a massive overnight operation hundreds of Israeli police officers swooped in on organized crime gangs and arrested some 70 people suspected of dealing in illegal arms and weapons, police said Monday.
The operation nabbed dozens of suspected criminals along with quantities of assault rifles, guns, explosives, cocaine and heroin. Officers made arrests in over 20 Jewish and Arab towns and cities nabbing some suspects in their homes in places like Rehovot, Lod, Ramla, Jaljulia, Kafr Qasem, Tel Aviv, Nazareth and Jerusalem, or hauling them out of cars at gunpoint in the middle of the road.
“The message that goes from here to every criminal and law-abuser is that the long arm of the police – in open or undercover activity – will come and get you,” Interior Security Minister Amir Ohana said.
The arrests made today are the result of professional, courageous and strenuous work, but it is not the end of the road,” Ohana said, adding that officials had to ensure each case was seen through to prosecution “with a heavy hand.”
Police said a high-level criminal in the Arab sector was persuaded “to cross the lines” and go undercover on behalf of the police. The operation took more than a year of undercover investigation after police signed an agreement with the operative who had access to senior figures in the drug and arms crime world.
Dubbed “Operation Leon” after the French action thriller about a professional hitman, the secret agent grew up in the heart of the drug industry in Israel and had served a total of 22 years in prison, Ynet reported. He had an “open door” to all the top criminals in Israel.
A police officer from a high-ranking unit of the Israeli police was also attached to the agent, working undercover and pretending to be a criminal as the agent’s driver and security guard. The undercover agent’s status with the mobsters “opened many doors to influential figures in the world of crime in Israel, in a way that led to the success of the operation,” police said.
Even though the known criminal had told police he wanted to work against his former colleagues, police at first were reluctant to use him.
“It’s important for us to know what an offender can get us,” a senior police official said. “Not every weapon seizure or drug deal is worth activating an agent.”
When the operation was revealed Monday there were reports that crime figures trembled when they realized the true identity agent “Leon.” A senior police official said that if the reports were true, it was a sign that the “the underworld is bankrupt,” suggesting it meant the end of organized crime in Israel.