Special Report: The drug routes through Greece to Europe
Greece’s geographical position at the point where three continents meet and a gateway between east and west makes it a key route for the worldwide drug trade, the most lucrative of the international criminal trades and one that accounts for almost half of the revenue of worldwide organised crime.
The head of the Attica Security Police Drugs Prosecution Department Kostas Panagiotopoulos, in a report released on Sunday, talked to the Athens-Macedonian News Agency about Greece’s role in the international drug trade and the routes used to transport drugs from the countries where they are produced to Europe.
“Greece is a country that produces small amounts of cannabis and a destination country of quantities from abroad for domestic consumption but also for transporting the substance to EU countries, chiefly from Albania. At the same time, Greece’s position at the crossroads of three continents, combined with its proximity to countries that produce and traffic in drugs, automatically makes it one of the main routes for transporting heroin, both across its extended land borders and via its sea borders,” he said.
For heroin, in particular, Greece is one of the main transit countries for quantities sent to Europe, as well as a destination country for domestic consumption. A large number of Greeks is involved in trafficking heroin in the country, followed by Albanians.
Heroin seizures in Greece often involve large quantities, such as the bust of a refrigerator truck moving 369 kilos of the drug that was stopped in Greece on its way to Belgium, or the 20 kilos found stashed in a tourist coach arriving from Turkey.
Neighbouring Albania is a “collection point” for heroin, which is then transported by Albanian criminal groups to various destinations, including Greece. There is significant involvement of Greek nationals, however, in the preparation and “cutting” of heroin. Afghan nationals and Pakistanis are also often involved in heroin trafficking, while production, trafficking and consumption have risen sharply in Africa.
A variety of methods and modes of transportation are used to smuggle the drugs across borders, with the greatest quantities moved overland from the countries where it is produced (Afghanistan, Tajikistan and Pakistan) via Turkey and then following three alternative routes to enter Europe. Italy is the most southern destination, either through Greece or the Balkans.
When it comes to cocaine, the primary entry points of the drug in Europe are the ports on the Atlantic, in Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain and Portugal, with Greece and Italy playing a secondary role. Greeks have a limited role in the cocaine trade, though Albanian involvement is constantly increasing in this area as well. Albania has become a key distribution point for cocaine destined for European markets and is used as a storage country, alongside its role in the heroin trafficking trade, though Greeks still dominate the Greek cocaine dealing market.
The criminal groups cooperate with their counterparts in Latin America and the Caribbean and set up companies as “fronts” to facilitate the transport of drugs with their goods and to legalise their income. Again, a variety of modes of transportation and means are used to bring cocaine into Greece.
Even more dizzying is the variety of vehicles and methods was used to import cannabis into Greece, Panagiotopoulos said, which range from private cars and trucks to jet skis and postal parcels. The criminal groups involved in the cannabis trade are primarily Greek, with Albanians the next best-represented group, though most outfits contained members of at least two nationalities and move more than one type of drug.
The majority of imported cannabis products from outside Europe came from North Africa and Lebanon, mostly in freighters and fishing boats, with Mediterranean countries usually the first “distribution point” while most cannabis produced in Europe came from Albania, either through Greece and Italy or via its northern borders.
In an interview for Gazeta Shqiptare, Deputy US Ambassador David Muniz spoke about corruption and the obstacles its brings for economic development through new investments. We don’t see as many investments as we would like to. We want to see more investments and we want to see the economical relation is vital, because it is […]
An FBI statement before a US Senate Committee in October assessed the organised crime situation in the Balkans.
By Dimitris Agrafiotis for Southeast European Times in Athens – 21/11/03
Organised crime in the Balkans has attracted the interest of the American law enforcement community and the US Senate. The US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) believes that crime from the Balkans, Eastern and Central Europe, and the former Soviet Union is expanding and will continue to expand.
„In the last year or two, European nations have recognised that Balkan organised crime is one of the greatest criminal threats that they face,“ Assistant Director of the FBI Criminal Investigative Division Grant D. Ashley said in an October statement before the Subcommittee on European Affairs of the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.
He added that European police organisations estimate that Balkan crime rings now control more than 70 per cent of the heroin market in some of the larger European nations, and are rapidly taking over human smuggling, prostitution and car theft rings across Europe.
………, Albanian organised crime has reached the United States, creating partnerships with the Gambino, Genovese, and Luchese families to facilitate specific crimes.……………….
siehe auch FBI Bericht an den US Kongress:
FBI Press Room – Congressional Statement – 2003 – Statement of Grant
November 2003 Volume
72 Number 11
United States Department of Justice
Federal Bureau of Investigation
Criminals originally from Serbia and Montenegro „control the criminal underground in Australia and have connections with gangs in Colombia, Mexico, and Asia.“
This is reported by the Daily Telegraph, which quoted „a lengthy News Corp Australia investigation.“
According to this, one of the biggest narco-cartel in the world is led by criminals from the Balkans, immigrants from the former Yugoslavia, notorious crime figures that in the 1990s „who once controlled Kings Cross’ Golden Mile but have now formed offshore bases in Montenegro, Spain and Holland to move the drugs, guns and cash about.“
According to the paper, they left crime and Australia during the last decade and returned to the Balkans, but have now „carefully planned their return“ and operate a global criminal network.
According to the article, drugs are brought and distributed in Australia through local motorcycle gangs, while the cartel is now „activating its sleepers“ in the second and third generation of Australian criminals.
A police official said that this criminal organization was the greatest threat to Australia thanks to its firm basis, discipline and influence in local communities.
„Those families are described as being either direct relatives or from well-established and historical Mafia-like clans from the former Yugoslavian states who moved to Australia in the second migration wave from the Balkan region in the 1980s and 1990s in state-sponsored infiltration of Australia by the former regimen of Serbian Slobodan Milosevic,“ reported the paper.
The article went on to say that some of the criminals believed to have withdrawn in the 1990s returned to head the cartels from their bases in Serbia and Montenegro. According to this, „the mostly Australian nationals run group, led by former Kings Cross identity Vaso Ulic who left Australia in 2005 never to return.“
The paper said that the network brings at least six tons of drugs, cocaine and ecstasy, to Australia each year.
It added that „it has been confirmed the prosecution’s office in Montenegro has an extensive file on Ulic and other figures in the country as part of an international arrest warrant to break the cartel up,“ but that „while no extradition treaty exists with Montenegro, both police there and in Serbia have been actively working with AFP agents to establish if the source of the global crime was perpetrated locally and therefore the arrest warrants can be pursued and prosecuted locally.“
The same report said that the drugs are smuggled from South America to Europe, China, and Nigeria.