EU Vehicle Caught Smuggling Smartphones, Gold Into Israel

YERUSHALAYIM -
Some of the items found by Customs officials in the EU vehicle (Tax Authority)
Some of the items found by customs officials in the EU vehicle. (Tax Authority)

Israeli customs officials on Thursday confiscated a large cache of smartphones and jewelry that the driver of a vehicle was trying to bring into Israel from Jordan. While it is not rare for police to discover even large caches of this type at the border, this operation was unique – because the merchandise was found in a vehicle belonging to the European Union.

The vehicle was carrying a senior EU diplomat from Jordan to Israel and attempting to cross the Allenby Bridge. While the diplomat has diplomatic immunity, his driver – a resident of the village of Atarot, north of Yerushalayim – does not, and customs officials insisted on searching the vehicle he was driving.

Inside the vehicle, the officials discovered, were some 700 smartphones, as well as a large number of pieces of jewelry, which were apparently 24k solid gold, officials said. In addition, the vehicle was found to be carrying large amounts of illicit drugs. Altogether, the items were valued at NIS 10 million ($2.4 million).

The diplomat and the driver were questioned. The former was released, while the latter was arrested and detained. Police have asked the court to extend his remand until at least Sunday.