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The Greek police smashed a criminal network, but the mafia shootings continue

31 March 2011 / 15:03:00  GRReporter
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The network of the "godfathers" of the night was stricken by the Greek police. After two years of investigation the police officers smashed four large gangs that bullied shop owners in the form of providing security and organized arson, attempted murders and human trafficking.

The police investigation began after the start of the clash between the leaders of two of the gangs which resulted in 19 of their members killed, several arson, bombings in restaurants and other crimes between 2006 and 2009.

The 227,238 tracked phone calls made it clear that a very famous singer is involved in the network too. She is accused of inciting fraud and extortion, because she sought the assistance of a "guard" to resolve her financial disputes with a restaurant owner. The members of the criminal networks used coded names in their conversations. The word "clothing" indicated the amount they should receive for the provision of security. The place where they met was probably called the "monastery" and the "lotto station" was synonymous with the Ministry for Citizens Protection. The word "attorney" was used for the person that put the bomb, "plots" were the night establishments, "curtains" - the ignition devices, "workout" - the preparation for each of their actions.

The Greek police department dealing with extortionists made a file for 217 people 70 of whom are chief members of the four gangs. 22 were arrested after the warrants issued against them, while the rest are detained. Much of the file and a long list of names were sent to the prosecutor in Piraeus, as most of the interceptions acted in the suburbs of the port city.

The criminal activity of the captured was highly diverse. The biggest night clubs in Athens became the subject of their attacks. Members of the gangs are accused of murdering Babis Lazaridis – the owner of a large night club, and of burning the shop of a famous actor in the coastal suburb of Glyfada. Many of the members of the first gang were involved in the kidnapping of the shipping tycoon Periklis Panagopoulos. According to some sources, the jailed criminals are not the leaders of the four groups. Persons of Russian and Albanian origin are among those arrested and the gangs used them to carry out their attacks.

It is believed that the available information helped the Greek police prevent attacks against people. Quite by "accident" the patrolling cars appeared where the "guards" were to attack and as a result they temporarily abandoned their plans. The police watched for about a month a coffee bar near Petroupoli as it had information that a bombing would be held there. Due to the lack of police personnel, however, they stopped watching it and the attack took place 10 days later.

One of the captured was a resigned police lieutenant from northern Greece. It is believed that he was involved in money laundering, delivering weapons to the gangs and in the extortion of the nightclubs’ owners. He also "authorized" the gang members to beat the persons with whom he had quarrel. Seven police officers currently working in the National Bank who participated in the counterfeit money laundering worth 1.5 million euros as well as state functionaries are also captured for involvement in the criminal groups.

The list of the criminals’ "heroisms" is long. They blackmailed the owners of restaurants and shops in Attica, Thessaloniki, Agrinio, Navpaktos, Corinth, Loutraki, Halkida and other cities in the region of Ilia and the island of Crete, the amounts ranging from one to three thousand euros. Only from this "activity" of theirs they "gained" a half a million euros per month. According to the police, they collected that amount from 268 sites in total.

Arson, placing of explosive devices, attempted murders, trafficking of people, sale of drugs, weapons and ammunition, supply and possession of explosives, robbery, fraud, extortion of money from debtors, production and circulation of counterfeit banknotes, counterfeit and legalization of money from criminal activities are part of the "exploits" of the criminals.

The rest of the detained are accused of extortion, dangerous injuries, pimping, trafficking of people, drugs, weapons, ammunition and disturbances in the performance of their duties which were performed in specific time periods in complicity with some of the leaders or other members of the gangs, or even alone. According to the police investigation, they did not participate in all activities of the four criminal groups. The authorities continue to investigate the possibility those captured as well as persons against whom there are indictments and are still wanted to be involved in other serious criminal acts.

Last night's murder of a 39-year-old man in the Athens suburb of Voula, however, shows that despite the successful action of the police the organized crime has numerous tentacles. The man was probably shot by a Kalashnikov at the time when he parked his car. Then, two people on motorcycle approached him and shot their victim in cold blood.

The police say that the motive for the murder could be settling of personal or financial accounts, since the killed man attracted the authorities’ attention in the past with robberies, drug trafficking and other criminal activities.


Tags: Crime newsPoliceCriminal networkMurderMoney laundringDrugs sale
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