Smugglers of 10 Million Eggs Indicted by Israeli Authorities
Fourteen smugglers were indicted on Thursday for a mass importation of illegal agricultural products from Palestinian controlled territory into Israel, including shipments of 10 million eggs, reports Arutz Sheva. The people indicted – 13 of whom are Israeli – were part of a larger network of smugglers seeking to capitalize on the cheaper prices of PA goods, considered illegal in Israel, due to lack of health inspections and safety concerns.
Before being caught, the group managed to successfully move 72 truckloads of contraband in total, evading inspection from authorities by paying an agent at the crossings where the goods entered into Israel. The operations occurred at checkpoints in Samaria, according to two indictments, where smugglers would line up dozens of trucks to be loaded with PA farmers’ merchandise, including fruit, vegetables, and especially eggs, with a destination of Israeli markets like the Carmel Market in Tel Aviv.
The accounts of smuggling are accompanied by a series of felonies that members of the smuggling ring are accused of. These include fraud, bribery, document forgery, and endangerment of the public health, with the ring owing the authorizes as much as NIS 7 million in tax evasions and money laundering. Other charges include suppression of evidence and intimidation, accusations leveled at one smuggler who was a top official in the Israel Egg Production Council. That official purportedly received bribes from the smugglers to allow sale of the produce in Israel, whose merchants he intimidated to turn a blind eye to the illegal maneuverings. The official also extorted bribes from Israeli merchants by threatening financial ruin, which he would accomplish by calling in public safety officers to seize and destroy the contraband, should the merchants fail to pay bribes.
Of the fourteen people charged, three were group leaders’ wives, accused of destroying key evidence and conspiring to prevent investigations into the smuggling. One non-Israeli was charged as well, a PA resident who acted as a liaison between the smugglers and farmers.
“This is a very dangerous process.” one policeman said about smuggling to Ynet. “Explosives could…be hidden in the trucks, they were never inspected,” he added.