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Greece, Albania, key international drug-trafficking routes

Greece, Albania, key international drug-trafficking routes
Being at the "crossroads of three continents" makes Greece one of the best international trafficking hubs that leads to the rest of Europe, with easy and fast connections to buyers’ sources.

An illuminating special report released on Sunday, October 22, gave the chance to the Attica Security Police Drugs Prosecution Department head, Kostas Panagiotopoulos speak about the situation and explain things in more detail to the Athens-Macedonian News Agency (ANA-MPA).

"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, mainly 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 drugs, automatically makes it one of the main routes for transporting heroin, both across its extended land borders and via its sea borders", noted the Attica Drug Squad head.

By global standards the drug trade is one of the most lucrative illicit businesses on earth, with international drug lords making immense efforts to dominate the market.

Leaving South America aside for the moment, South Eastern Europe** and more particularly the Balkan route are the playground of traffickers from Asia, Africa, Eastern and Central Europe.

According to a March 2014 report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), named "The illicit drug trade through South-Eastern Europe", the fist of the key-findings read: "South-Eastern Europe has long represented a crucial stage of the 'Balkan route'; a well-worn heroin supply route that travels westward by land from Afghanistan to reach the lucrative destination markets of Western and Central Europe."

All of the above data prove Greece to be a "key-player" in the wider region and a major spot where drugs get, are gathered and transported from to the rest of Europe.

By drugs, police refer mainly to heroin, cocaine and cannabis. Greece and Albania mean a lot to traffickers internationally as the former is among the transit countries, especially for heroin, whereas the latter is considered to be a "collection point" for heroin.

Criminal groups use all kinds of transport to get their "goodies" to their destination. Trucks, tourist coaches, freighters and fishing boats are often chartered by traffickers.

The report mentions that people from Greece and Albania, as well as other Balkan countries are usually high up in the list of the involved criminals. But of course there are also many Turks, Afghans, Pakistanis, Africans (North Africa and Lebannon export the majority of cannabis that reaches Europe), people in Tajikistan (where great drug quantities are produced and transferred from) and Italians -largely working with Greeks and Albanians due to the proximity of the three countries- who are part of the human chain doing such business.

Albania holds the reins when it comes to the cocaine trade, leaving Greece second best, the report informs us. And from constantly more involved Albania, cocaine manages to get to "the ports on the Atlantic, in Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain and Portugal." Nevertheless, "Greeks still dominate the Greek cocaine dealing market."

Although the distance could create doubts about such a cooperation, surprisingly, the report speaks of traffickers from across the Atlantic (Latin America and the Caribbean) doing business together Europeans and sending loads of cocaine to Greece.../IBNA

**For the purposes of this report, South-Eastern Europe is understood to include the following: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Kosovo under United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244.

Photo: Greek Police

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