JERUSALEM, Israel – Israel Police wrapped up a one-year sting operation targeting illegal arms and drug dealers in the Arab sector.
At a ceremony Monday morning, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan presented the undercover agent, an Israeli Arab now on the force, with a gun and a certificate for his key role in the operation.
The agent, whose name has been withheld, said he had always seen himself "on the side that enforces the law."
"When it was suggested to me that I act as an agent, I didn't think twice," he said, YNet reported. "The phenomenon of weapons in the Arab areas seriously concerns the residents. It is a dangerous phenomenon with which I am intimately familiar."
The agent's handler said the training process begins in the recruiting office.
"To be an agent is a complicated intelligence mission from the first stage of training to the operations in the actual field," he explained. "It's one of the most complicated in intelligence work."
Code named "Operation 500," the saga has all the elements of a Hollywood action film, only it's real.
To infiltrate the undercover world, police train an average citizen to pass himself off as a criminal.
About 600 police officers took part in search operations that resulted in 63 arrests so far.
During his year undercover, the agent purchased about a dozen homemade submachine guns, Kalashnikov assault rifles and handguns, along with sizable quantities of hashish, cocaine and marijuana. He reportedly became so much a part of the Arab underworld that he was asked to help resolve disputes among its operatives.
Ami Ben-David, spokesman for the Central District, told The Jerusalem Post police needed an undercover agent to crack the illegal arms trade.
"Most of the time we were finding the guns without the suspect," Ben-David said. "So we decided the only way to solve the problem was to get inside the illegal weapons trade with an undercover agent."
The government has allocated 2 billion shekels over the next five years to help Arab Israelis combat criminal elements within their communities.