Greek police report seizure of nearly 1.2 tonnes of cocaine

ATHENS, GREECE (AP) — Greek police said they seized nearly 1.2 tonnes of cocaine and arrested eight alleged members of an international drug trafficking gang.

Almost all of the cocaine, 1.18 tonnes, was found last Friday afternoon during raid at a house in the western Greek port of Astakos, police spokesman Theodoros Chronopoulos said last Saturday.

The drugs were carefully packaged in 1,040 nylon bags, ready to be distributed to intermediaries, Chronopoulos said.

Four more home raids in the Athens area yielded a small amount of cocaine, some cannabis, an AK-47 assault rifle and three pistols. Police also seized over EUR233,000 (USD257,000) in cash and impounded five vehicles.

Head of the Attica Security Directorate Major General Petros Tzeferis said the cocaine came from the Caribbean and was destined to countries in Europe and northwest Africa.

Tzeferis said the investigation took six months and Greek police were aided by colleagues in Albania and Spain, as well as the Drug Enforcement Administration office at the United States Embassy in Athens.

Chronopoulos said the drug gang’s leaders were two permanent residents of Spain, with several Albanian citizens as underlings. Police were looking for nine alleged members not yet under arrest.

Two of the people already detained were guarding the stash at the house in Astakos, Chronopoulos said. Three other suspects who allegedly rented a van to pick up the packaged cocaine also were arrested.

Tzeferis said that some of those arrested were already known to police. Four had prior arrests; one had been arrested five times, for armed robbery, attempted murder and drug offences.

Tzeferis added that the gang’s estimated earnings from drug dealing “exceed EUR50 million” (USD55 million).