Ramallah: The Palestinian Preventive Security Service (PPS), Palestine’s top security apparatus, has uncovered a criminal ring involved in grisly smuggling activities in the occupied West Bank.
The PPS arrested four members of the ring that specialises in exhuming bodies from graves, and then selling human skulls to other gangs for use in the manufacture of drugs.
The ring members from the cities of Jericho and Hebron had seven human skulls in their possession at the time of their arrest.
According to a statement issued by the PPS, a tipoff was received regarding a group of men between the ages of 20 and 35 years, following which security officers were assigned to investigate the case and arrest the suspects.
The statement said that the officers initially arrested a person whom they described as the weakest link in the gang, a suspect from Hebron who later testified against his accomplices. The rest of the gang members were duly arrested and interrogated, and eventually confessed to their crimes.
A senior security officer told Gulf News that the ring had been selling any skulls they were able to exhume to another gang inside the Green Line to be used in the manufacture of heroin. The officer said that an intensive investigation is still under way to flush out and arrest other potential accomplices in the case.
This series of crimes has left Palestinians in the area badly shaken as they fear what might have happened to the remains of their loved ones. Concerned citizens are urging the Ministry of Awqaf and Religious Affairs to implement more stringent measures to guard and protect Palestinian cemeteries. Social media users shared their concerns after the statement was released, and the Palestinian public is demanding that the harshest possible penalties be handed down to the ring members to make an example of them.
According to the suspects, a human skull sells for 15,000 shekels, with prices being even higher for older skulls.
Palestinian officers from the Palestinian-Israeli Security Affairs Liaison Office have discussed the issue with Israeli law enforcement authorities inside the Green Line, so that any suspects in occupied territories can also be arrested.
The PPS has received orders from the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah to continue its investigations until all potential suspects have been arrested.
According to the PPS, the seized skulls will be returned to their original graves if they can be identified or, otherwise, buried in new graves by Muslim clerics.
Lt. Col. Abdullah Elaiwi, the deputy director of the Palestinian Anti-Narcotics Department, told Watan TV that the use of human skulls in manufacturing drugs is popular in South America.
“Unlike the other human bones, the soft skull is easy to grind and produces particles which can be added to cocaine and heroin [drugs that can be snorted] to increase their weight,” he said.
Elaiwi noted that heroin is different to traditional drugs available in the local market. “There has been a growing demand for this kind of drug, which is made from different chemicals, with some natural herbs and ground human skulls added to the mixture during the manufacturing process,” he said.