Greek shipowner arrested in $543m heroin bust

22/06/2014
Greek shipowner arrested in $543m heroin bust

The Greek coast guard and police working with the US Drugs Enforcement Agency have discovered around two tonnes of heroin hidden in warehouses and private homes with a street value of over EUR400m ($543m).

The drugs were smuggled into Greece from Afghanistan, Iran and by sea, with two of the 22 people arrested by 21 June described as shipowners.

A 40-year-old Greek businessman said to be operating gas carriers out of Dubai, his former wife, her friend, five Turkish nationals and an Albanian national were remanded in custody on 17 and 18 June in relation to the seizure of the largest find of heroin ever made in Greece. The shipowner, has been named in the media as Makis Giannousakis, though a serach of shipping data has failed to connect him with the industry locally.

Half a tonne of heroin was found in Giannousakis' Filothei, Athens, luxury home and half a tonne was found in a warehouse in Koropi, eastern Attica, near Athens international airport. The drugs were packaged in 443 plastic bales. The coast guard is continuing its investigation in order to trace more suspects. According to reports, the suspect and others believed to be involved in the case are featured on the so-called Lagarde list of Greeks with deposits at the Geneva branch of HSBC that is being investigated for massive tax evasion.

In a third raid, just under a tonne of heroin was discovered in a second Koropi warehouse and 14 people, most of them crew members of a small tanker have been arrested, the harbour corps revealed 21 June.

Initial information indicates the latest haul had been brought into Greece on the 910 dwt tanker, Noor One, built 1967, Togo-flag, which is owned by the one-ship company, Axia Shiptrading SA based in an area near Piraeus.

Those arrested included 10 tanker crew, the Greek head of the company, said to be a woman, which owns the ship as well as three others implicated in the affair.

It is said the drug was meant to be taken by truck from Greece to markets around Europe. At least one truck with specially-built compartments has been found in a truck yard in Schistos, the industrial zone west of Piraeus.

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