Israel Police uncover surreptitious ring smuggling contraband to Palestinian security prisoners using soft-drink cartons sent to the prison’s canteen by the supplier’s employees.
By Eli Senyor
Police have uncovered a network smuggling mobile phones to security prisoners serving sentences in Israeli jails using employees of a company supplying canteen items to prisoners.
The surreptitious scheme was uncovered by an investigation conducted by the police’s central region main unit. Among those arrested for participating in the network are a West Bank resident and Israeli citizens employed with the marketing company providing the canteen products.
The covert investigation commenced at the end of August, after a search conducted by Israel Prison Service personnel on a canteen shipment of soft drinks and snacks turned up five concealed mobile phones and multiple sim cards.
An inquiry into the matter discovered the canteen shipment was intended to reach security prisoners held in Ofer Prison. Several days later another drink shipment, this time to Ramon Prison, was intercepted and found to contain six diminutive finger-sized mobile phones.
Police investigation into the smuggling ring uncovered a systematic organization with a comprehensive system put in place: employees were inserted into the marketing company whose sole purpose was smuggling phones inside canteen shipments and then sent out from the company’s warehouses in the Shfela region to prisons across the country.
In addition, police suspected members of the ring knew where each shipment was intended to be sent and knew precisely where to insert the contraband, despite shipping destinations only being marked with numerical codes on the crates.
According to one testimony, employees of the company received thousands of shekels for each item smuggled, with sums ranging from NIS 8,000 for a regular mobile phone and up to NIS 15,000 for an advanced smart phone.
At the conclusion of the police’s investigation, five suspects were arrested: Ziad Shanti, 39, of Hirbat Nabi Ilyas in the Qalqilya Governorate, Ali Turki, 22, of Rishon LeZion, Yaakov Yavregimov, 25, of Bat Yam, Richard Paschenik, 23, of Rosh HaAyin and another 20-year-old suspect from Rishon LeZion whose identity was withheld at the request of his council.
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