Colombian gangs are behind a series of stealing costly diagnostic devices from hospitals in Greece and another eleven European countries, Greek authorities said on Wednesday.
Three Colombian nationals aged 20, 37 and 50 have been identified, Security Director for Attica Prefecture, Christos Papazafiris, said at a press conference. He revealed that four of the medical devices stolen from Greek hospitals were recovered and confiscated by local authorities in a country of Latin America.
The devices stolen from four hospitals in Athens, Volos, Lamia and Larissa were worth more than half a million euro. The medical devices were used for pulmonary and gastroenterological diagnosis. The thefts took place between 15 and 20 of May 2017.
The confiscated devices were sent from Greece to Columbia via shipment services.The packages contained two endoscopy devices stolen form the Oncology hospital in Athens, two stolen form the general hospitla in Larissa and one connecting cable.
The Police Director did not give details about the whereabouts of the remaining stolen devices.
Similar thefts from hospitals have taken place in the last four years in France, Germany, Italy, Austria, The Netherlands, Spain, Luxembourg, Poland, Lithuania, Czech Republic and Croatia, Papazafiris said.
Mostly nationals of Colombia would travel to Europe as tourists and commit the thefts following orders from cartels. They would rent apartments through internet sites, often pretend to be sick. They would locate gastroenterology clinics and hospitals, use fake travel documents, and flee when they include their mission.
The gang members who operated in Greece were four, however, only three were identified. They sent the stolen devices using an international shipment companies, and flew to a Latin American country via Spain. They used fake travel documents from Portugal and had entered Greece from Turkey.
According to police, the gang members left Greece on May 21st.
Why should a drug cartel need such devices?
ANT1 TV suggests that the Colombian drug cartel might have wanted to use the devices to track whether drug couriers who swallow the so called “eggs” containing cocaine would not cheat on them.
Investigation was part of a cross national operation between Greece, European, international and Latin American authorities.
However, investigation continues for the identification of more suspects, as Greek police considers the criminal gang operates with more members.