Greece dismantles gang trafficking drugs from Latin America to Europe

By Thomson Reuters May 23, 2024 | 6:58 AM

ATHENS (Reuters) – Greek authorities have dismantled an international criminal group trafficking cocaine in shipping containers from Latin America to Europe, police said on Thursday.

Two Albanians and two Greeks were arrested after a months-long investigation launched by Greek drugs and contraband enforcement authorities in cooperation with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

Dozens of plastic bags containing more than 210 kg of cocaine were found and confiscated in containers with shrimps at the port of Piraeus, police officials said.

More than 130,000 euros ($141,000), a shotgun, bullets, mobile phones and documents referring to drug amounts and expected profits were also confiscated among other evidence during raids at the suspects’ homes and vehicles, police said in a statement.

Based on the evidence, authorities estimate that the criminal group aimed for an illegal profit of more than 5 million euros.

The drugs were being transferred from Latin America to European countries and to Turkey, police officials said. Greece was used both as a transit point and destination for the shipments.

One of the Albanians was accused of a lead role in the group.

Police said that the 48-year old man had been previously accused of operating a lab in Greece producing Captagon pills – a mix of amphetamines also known as the “poor man’s cocaine”.

More than 634,000 pills had been confiscated at the time.

One of the Greek nationals had been previously arrested in Costa Rica on a 2012 warrant issued by the United States and sentenced over his involvement in smuggling weapons to Europe for the now demobilized Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) rebels.

The suspects were expected to appear before a prosecutor.

($1 = 0.9223 euros)

(Reporting by Yannis Souliotis; Writing by Renee Maltezou; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)