Twelve Israelis have been charged with running one of the largest drug smuggling networks in Northern Israel since the Israeli army’s pullout from Lebanon, according to Israeli media reports.
The network, comprised of Jews and Arabs, was captured around a month ago following a joint investigation by Israel’s Shin Beit security forces and the northern police district.
The ring is suspected of providing Hizbullah with intelligence and military equipment, including photographs of northern sites, night-vision glasses, an Israeli Statistical Yearbook and electronic dictionaries. In exchange, the reports said, it received hundreds of kilograms of drugs from Lebanon.
The defendants are residents of Ghajar village on the Lebanese border, Kiryat Shmona and Tel Aviv region.
According to the reports, the ring's main link and contact man with the Hizbullah was Lebanese drug dealer Ramzi Nahara, who was killed in December 2002, when his car exploded in Lebanon. He allegedly organized meetings between Hizbullah officials and some of the drug dealers, supplied the Israelis with weapons, and conveyed intelligence-gathering instructions to them on behalf of Hizbullah.
The ring's members confessed to smuggling four to five tons of hashish through the Lebanese border, but the Israeli police assume the actual amount was two or three times larger. According to Israeli officials, the network began operating in mid-2001. (Albawaba.com)
© 2003 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com )