The Judea and Samaria District police revealed on Monday that a covert investigation that had been ongoing for several months has busted a smuggling ring, which had been running uncertified chicken eggs from territories under Palestinian Authority (PA) control.
The smugglers would bring the eggs over the 1949 Armistice line and sell them to food retail chains and cafes selling to Israeli citizens, in a serious breach of health standards that could have been life-threatening given the high possibility for diseases in the unchecked eggs.
Members of the ring are suspected of having run the operation on a very large scale, raking in more than ten million shekels (around $2.6 million) a year.
A 43-year-old Israeli man from Modi'in was the head of the smuggling ring, and he was arrested together with 11 additional members in Ashdod, Jerusalem, Modi'in Ilit, Beit Shemesh, Nes Harim, Moshav Gefen and several Arab villages in Judea and Samaria.
In the arrests, both Israeli and foreign currency equaling tens of thousands of shekels was seized, together with thousands of the illegal eggs, which were promptly destroyed.
Likewise in a storehouse in Beit Laki a laboratory for counterfeiting the date stamps on the eggs was uncovered, along with a complete machine system to package the eggs.
The suspects were brought on Monday morning to the Jerusalem Magistrate's Court for a ruling on an extension of their detention.
"The phenomenon of smuggling eggs from Palestinian Authority territories to Israel is a dangerous phenomenon that threatens human life," warned Chief Superintendent Shai Koventor, head of the criminal division of the Judea-Samaria district central unit.
"These are criminals who by any means and methods look to gain profit, at the cost of the health of the wider public in the state of Israel," noted Koventor. "The wave of arrests shows that this is a wide-ranging phenomenon of a national scale; leading food chains and cafes chose to purchase these smuggled eggs and sell them to millions of innocent consumers."