In a joint operation of police and the Navy, Greek authorities arrested four men and seized 635,000 drug pills worth ten million euros. The drug pills known under the brand name Captagon are said to be popular in the Arab world. Furthermore, Captagon is known to be used by the fighters of the Islamic State. Last summer, in a joint operation between Greek authorities and the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) led to an even bigger catch: 26 million drug pills estimated worth 13 million euro were loaded in a cargo ship that anchored at the port of Piraeus. However, the men arrested on March 3rd, are believed to be manufacturing the drug pills in Attica.
Last Friday, Greek authorities arrested four men as members of a ring believed to be manufacturing and trafficking large quantities of an illegal drug called Captagon. the operation was conducted by Greece’s Financial Crimes Unit (SDOE),, the Greek Police and the Navy in Nea Peramos near the towns of Elefsina and Megara in Western Attica.
Following a lengthy stake-out, SDOE located and raided the drugs lab seizing 635,000 tablets of the drug, which is associated with ISIS fighters who are said to use it extensively. The market value of the tablets is estimated at 10 million euros. Authorities also seized weapons, cash and a car. The pills were stashed in specially made crypts inside a truck that was also seized.
One Greek, two Albanian and one Turk were arrested. Police is looking for more ring members among them a retired policeman, and another Albanian and one Turkish national.
In a separate raid in Megara, SDOE found a speed boat that had been retrofitted specifically to transfer the pills out of Greece.
During a press conference on Monday, authorities said that the drug pills were manufactured in Greece with the purpose to be transported to Turkey and from there to countries of the Middle East.
The market price for one pill was twenty euros, media reported.
Authorities estimate that it took the gang members some 12 to 15 days to manufacture the 635,000 pills. A Turkish national was in charge of the pills production.
It is the first time authorities have discovered a Captagon lab in Greece, SDOE said.
According to state ERT TV, Greek authorities followed a tip by US DEA a couple of months ago.
Captagon is a synthetic amphetamine which was first created in the sixties to treat hyperactivity, narcolepsy and depression but was banned in the mid-eighties for being highly addictive. The drug is believed to be flooding the Middle East. Data from 2010 showed one third of the worldwide Captagon production was consumed in the region.
In the operation in June 2016, Greek authorities and US DEA agents seized 26 million drug pills estimated worth 13 million euro. The drug pills were found in a cargo ship hidden among loads of towels and table clothes. The cargo ship had left a port in India and its destination was Libya. The illegal load was reportedly to be distributed among Jihadists fighting for the ISIS as the drugs ‘make them feel invulnerable.
On May 10th, the ship had a stopover in the port of Piraeus. According to its commodity declaration it was transporting towels, linen-cloths and similar products.
“Once the ship moored in the harbor, the officers of Financial Crime, in cooperation with the customs authorities, carried out an unannounced inspection and found the drugs hidden in cargo containers,” daily Ethnos reports noting that “sources” indicate that the value of the opiate drugs exceed 13 million euro.
It seems that the authorities had obtained some information about the ship before it arrived in the port of Piraeus.
The ship owner is a Libyan company that has been allegedly investigated by authorities also in the past and thus for similar cases. Authorities were investigating whether also Greek nationals were involved in the illegal trade.