Tel Aviv Court Sentences Former El Al Worker to 12 Years in Prison
On Tuesday, a Tel Aviv District Court sentenced a former security official for El Al, the national airline, to 12 years in prison. This was because of the role he played in a smuggling ring that managed to bring in cocaine into the country.
57 year old Rami Yogev was also given probation of about 24 months. At the sentencing, Judge Morechai Levy asserted that this drug incident was one of the most serious ones to occur in Israel, given that the ring had managed to smuggle in about 150 kilograms of cocaine.
The judge said that the defendant had ended up damaging the trust of the public in the country’s gatekeepers. It was in 2019 that Yogev had been charged, as had eight other suspects. He made a plea bargain that resulted in his conviction.
Yogev had admitted that even though he did not know for sure the contents of the suitcases that carried the drugs, but he had chosen to look the other way and not acknowledge the possibility of their presence.
The former El Al worker was charged with three counts of smuggling drugs weighing 18 kilograms and his guilt for conspiracy to commit a crime was proven. The indictment had 14 additional charges, but they had been removed.
According to prosecutors, Yogev was working as a high ranking liaison for El Al airlines. Moreover, he also had the responsibility of ensuring the security of the Israeli carrier abroad. Due to his position, Yogev was able to get through standard security checkpoints and could also gain access to areas of Ben Gurion airport that are usually restricted.
Out of the total nine suspects, one of them became the state’s witness in this particular case.
The indictments detailed that about 150 kilograms of cocaine had been smuggled into Israel from South Africa by the suspects. This had been done over a period of several months and on 10 different occasions.
A courier put the drugs in hand luggage in order to get them through security in Johannesburg and then carried onto flights going to Israel. As soon as the doors of the plane opened after landing at the Ben Gurion airport, the carrier gave the hand luggage to Yogev.
Due to his clearance, Yogev was able to bypass security and they were taken into Israel. According to prosecutors, the El Al employee had grossly and blatantly violated the trust that had been placed in him because his job.
In November 2019, one of the suspects had arrived at the Ben Gurion airport in Israel from Johannesburg. Drugs were found in the hand luggage and this resulted in the arrest of Yogev, along with three others.
The police had submitted a request for imposing a gag order about the case. However, a judge from the Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s Court had rejected the request. Therefore, the details of the case were disclosed to the public.