Israel Police detained three United Nations employees on Sunday on suspicion of trying to smuggle liquid cocaine into Israel from Jordan, disguised as a component of perfume-making kits.
Customs officers who inspected luggage belonging to the detainees, who work in Syria near the border with Israel, were suspicious about the kits, which the travelers described as used for making perfumes.
The kits, which contained multiple bottles with liquids, prompted a police sniffing dog to react in a way that substantiated the suspicions, according to a joint statement from police and the Tax Authority.
An analysis conducted by the customs officer and police led the law enforcement professionals to identify the liquid in at least one of the bottles as liquid cocaine. The Israel Police Northern District took over the investigation of the suspects, who are in custody, police said in a statement.
The United Nations employs thousands of peace-keeping troops and other personnel around Israel. Jerusalem has often exchanged barbs with UN officials over impartiality or accused them of collaborating with Israel’s enemies, while the UN has at times accused Israel of detaining its employees without reason or denying them entry.
However, other cases have involved allegedly criminal or inappropriate behavior by UN employees stationed in the Jewish state.
In 2020, UN top brass condemned the actions of employees who had been filmed engaging in sexual acts inside a UN car in Tel Aviv. Two UN employees were suspended in connection with that incident.