A large-scale drug trafficking network from South America to Europe dismantled

The law enforcement authorities of Hellenic Republic and Republic of North Macedonia successfully dismantled at the beginning of June 2023, with the support of SELEC and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), a large-scale drug trafficking network from South America to Europe. The joint investigation revealed an elaborate modus operandi of smuggling cocaine concealed in shipment containers from South America.

This successful seizure and the operational activities are a follow-up of the actions conducted on 8 and 9 of May 2023, when 105 kg of cocaine were seized in Thessaloniki and 10 people were arrested in Greece, namely 7 Greek citizens and 3 Albanian citizens, while in Republic of North Macedonia were arrested 4 persons, North Macedonian citizens. The arrests made that day marked the starting point for further investigations and intense information exchange, eventually leading to further arrests and seizure of the second shipment of cocaine.

On 2nd of June 2023, at the port of Thessaloniki, the Hellenic police officers from the Subdivision for Countering Narcotics of Thessaloniki together with their colleagues from the Sector for Illicit Trafficking in Drugs, Weapons and Dangerous Substances within Criminal Police Department of Republic of North Macedonia undertook joint activities, supported by SELEC, to detect and retrieve 100 packages of cocaine with a total weight of 161 kilograms, originated from Ecuador. The cocaine was found in specially made bunkers – crypts in the floor rails of two containers.

In the framework of this investigation, SELEC supported the information exchange between the authorities involved as well as the operational activities, including on-the-spot deployment of investigators. Following this successful joint investigation, Mr. Romulus Ungureanu, Director for Operations at SELEC, stated: “I use this opportunity to congratulate the investigators from the law enforcement agencies engaged in this major investigation, and to mention that SELEC is committed to enhance specific operational support for its Member States. We have observed lately a diversification in modus operandi used by OCG to smuggle cocaine in Europe, therefore we need to increase the information exchange with all the agencies and authorities involved in countering the smuggle of narcotics.

The judicial proceedings are ongoing in this case.