Activities of the Israeli drug underworld has been associated with approximately 75 percent of the United States ecstasy market.
Statistical figures by the United Nations suggest that apart from Asia, a substantial increase in cocaine trafficking has been recorded in Israel over the past few years.
The country’s drug world, like that of any other Western society, perceives cocaine as a reserve of the rich. This is attributed to its high price and the fact it is a social drug.
Drug dealers hail this substance as a means of lifting the human spirit and enhancing the senses.
But how exactly did Israel create a bedrock of drug trafficking? This stands to be a question that still lingers in the minds of many people.
European Drugs in Israel
The first few decades of the 20th century saw the entry of cocaine in Israel. History has it that in 1929, a significant drug bust occurred in Jaffa in which British authorities would seize about 800 grams of cocaine. The loot was said to have originated from Austria.
A 2003 report by the US State Department placed Israel at the epicenter of the international ecstasy trade. Most of the Israeli drug rings were linked to global networks running as far as Russia, with a specific focus on Europe.
The overall distribution of ecstasy in the US has been influenced by the activities of notable Israeli mafia organisations that employ diverse ways of maintaining relevance in the drug market.
Drug kingpins use air travel, international courier services and air cargo services to move drugs to various global destinations. The report declares that the Israeli-born crime organizations have managed to remain elusive by bypassing multiple international security protocols to feed some of the most robust drug markets in the world.
An understanding of Israel’s history provides answers concerning factors that have helped Israeli criminal groups to thrive in the drug business. A Drug and Enforcement Agency (DEA) report once provided that Israeli drug traffickers are commonly tied to Antwerp, a city in Belgium, which is centrally placed in the distribution of ecstasy to the US.
This follows a general assumption that Israeli drug lords have a long history with Belgium. It stems from the fact that they once engaged in minerals smuggling, mainly diamonds.
It is important to acknowledge the fact that Antwerp would later become an important export hub of ecstasy bound for the United States. Israeli criminals were thus assimilated into the system by default.
Israeli Organized Crime
A study of drug bust cases in Israel illustrates the characteristics of the Israeli drug underworld. In 2008, Israeli law enforcement successfully destroyed an international drug ring through essential arrests. Moshe Elgrably, an Israeli criminal on the Interpol’s most wanted list, was among the people that were apprehended at the time.
Yoram Elal, a major Israeli drug kingpin, would later be arrested in Brazil after wreaking havoc in international spheres as a dealer of ecstasy and cocaine. Yoram is said to have had close ties with the infamous Abergil crime family. The above instance represents the few cases in which law enforcement could tie drug shipments to specific people.
Otherwise, Israeli law enforcement has been largely unable to identify the people sending shipments into Israeli territory.
A good example is a 2006 drug bust, on the eve of Passover, in which an anonymously posted consignment was seized at Ashdod.
Another mystery is that of the seized shipping containers that were found to hold coffee beans that were disguising the presence of hundreds of kilos of cocaine. Both cases remain unsolved to this day.
The current Israeli drug trade is carried out by well-organized networks. Criminals typically prefer to act as middlemen in the drug trade and are well connected to potential investors that fund drug shipments.
Police reports have linked seized cashboxes to Israeli drug kingpins. A cashbox denotes a shipping container holding a considerable amount of cocaine consignments. Because Israeli drug dealers prefer not to touch the drugs, they use couriers to transport their consignments.
Couriers charge as much as $8,000 US Dollars to transport drugs to another country. In typical cases, the dealers hire couriers who smuggle the drugs in their body cavities. This can be done by filling condoms with cocaine and packing it in body orifices like the vagina, mouth or anus.
In 2012, a commercial jet landed in Ben-Gurion Airport with a deceased passenger. This prompted the authorities to investigate through an autopsy, which revealed that the person died after a cocaine-filled condom had burst in his abdomen.
Trafficking Ecstasy into the US
In addition to cocaine, ecstasy is another favourite of the Israeli drug underworld. Chief Israeli mafias continue to deal in what Interpol terms as the world’s most popular illegal drug. Ecstasy was traded by particular drug rings in Israel that possessed strong international networks.
Oded Tuito, for example, was once considered the leader of the most prominent Israeli mafia group that thrived in a booming ecstasy trade. The activities of his ruthless mafia affected many lives in both Israel and abroad.
In the United States, it is known that New York’s Hasidic Jews had been incorporated into the illicit business. The ecstasy trade had penetrated into community life and disrupted the social normalcy that was once enjoyed by the Jewish society in New York.
It is believed that the late Tuito had reportedly used his gang members to recruit locals into drug trafficking, with ultra-Orthodox teenagers were brainwashed and used as international drug couriers. Tuito and his people were taking advantage of the Hasidic way of traditional dressing.
The religious regalia worn by these Jews meant that they were typically able to pass narcotics under the noses of DEA officers. The police admitted that this was an ingenious way of transforming the overall perception of couriers’ profiles.
Law enforcement officers in the US have mentioned before that the Israeli drug lords have always worked hard at advancing their techniques, including making significant contact with Italian crime families who are believed to control the most significant international drug rings.
Analysts argue that the Israeli drug underworld was among the pioneers of the global ecstasy trade. It is the Israeli mafia groups that realized the potential of this lucrative business and rushed to cash in monumental returns from controlling drug networks that traversed international boundaries.
Just last year, three Israelis were convicted by a New Zealand court for drug trafficking, after being nabbed with 2 million dollars’ worth of ecstasy that was smuggled into New Zealand. Some of the most robust global crime groups are still headed by Israelis who had forged old partnerships that were cultivated through various platforms in their country.
The 2001 incident in which the body of an Israeli drug dealer was found at Los Angeles Airport vindicates this point.
It is the believed that the corpse, found stuffed in a car boot, was a show of ruthlessness by the Israeli mafias.
Before then, more than 1 million ecstasy pills were reportedly shipped from Paris to the United States.
Law Enforcement Faces Challenges
Ending the Israeli drug trafficking problem has never been easy for law enforcement. With more than 10 million passengers entering Israel through the David Ben-Gurion Airport annually, the capacity to detect and arrest all traffickers is still a challenge.
Budgetary constraints have also affected the smooth operations of drug enforcement agencies in Israel and beyond. The global war on drugs has proved to be a very tasking and costly affair that seems to linger in many societies worldwide.
For instance, there is a lack of funding for essential operations such as the real-time monitoring of drug couriers across continents. Nevertheless, Israeli drug enforcement agencies have joined forces with their global counterparts in merging resources to combat the drug issue.
In Israel, a specialized task force has been mandated with combatting the drug trade. This unit is an offshoot of the Israel Police and works tirelessly to purge the nation of their drug problem. It achieves this by employing technological innovation in collecting intelligence about the activities of Israel’s most significant criminal organizations.
So far a lot of progress has been realized, ranging from a substantial rise in the number of arrests made so far to the advancement of information exchange between the Israel Police and international security agencies. Needless to say, law enforcement agencies admit that there has been a significant rise in drug busts in the last few decades.
The Israeli Police continually seek collaboration that would advance the purpose of information exchange on matters relevant to the war on drugs. Israel, like virtually every other nation of the world, has expressed its passion in combatting the drug trade by employing creativity and the ambition to arrest and convict drug traffickers.
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