Police said Wednesday that they had smashed a second smuggling ring which brought illegal migrants from Georgia to Israel. Earlier this week, officials announced that they had arrested six individuals on charges of allowing thousands of non-citizens into Israel over the past two years, mostly from Georgia. An additional five individuals were arrested, police announced Wednesday, as part of a separate group that smuggled migrants from Georgia to Israel.
The second group acted independently, running its own smuggling operation, but cooperated with the first one. Both used workers at Ben Gurion Airport to smuggle migrants into Israel. The perpetrators of both operations got paid, and are charged with a variety of crimes, including security and financial crimes.
The suspects are employees of companies that provide services to Ben Gurion Airport, including cleaning crews, baggage handlers and others. All the suspects are themselves of Georgian origin, and operated a ring in which they all participated in smuggling Georgians who did not have visas into the country, with each working on one aspect of the scam in order to ensure that their clients got past security officials. For this, the smugglers received thousands of shekels in payments from their clients.
The scam began in 2017, with the suspects arranging for the clients to leave the airport using the entrances and exits they used. The suspects supplied phony credentials, enabling the clients to leave the airport and enter Israel. According to police, most of the Georgians who entered Israel came here for work, but the possibility that some came for criminal or even terror purposes cannot be dismissed. Police are attempting to track down the illegals, and the suspects are being questioned on the identity of their clients.
In a statement, the Airports Authority said that “as part of the efforts to prevent crime at Ben Gurion Airport, officials nabbed a group of migrants who attempted to evade border authorities. The incident was referred to police, who investigated further. The activities of police were coordinated with those of Airports Authority officials.”