HEAVY DUTY

Digital Empire

In January 2001, the security branch of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency began to receive a number of peculiar reports from DEA field offices across the country. According to the reports, young Israelis claiming to be art students and offering artwork for sale had been attempting to penetrate DEA offices for over a year. The Israelis had also attempted to penetrate the offices of other law enforcement and Department of Defense agencies. Strangest of all, the “students” had visited the homes of numerous DEA officers and other senior federal officials.

As a pattern slowly emerged, the DEA appeared to have been targeted in what it called an “organized intelligence gathering activity.” But to what end, and for whom, no one knew.

Reports of the mysterious Israelis with an inexplicable interest in peddling art to G-men came in from more than 40 U.S. cities and continued throughout the first six months…

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