Residents and shopowners in and around Koumoundourou Square in central Athens are up in arms as the area has become the playground of drug smugglers and gangs, with the stench of a place abandoned by authorities.
Locals are bemoaning the area’s downhill turn as in recent years it had shed its shady reputation as a drug gang hangout.
But all this changed around 18 months ago when it was announced that the OKANA, the Greek Organization Against Drugs, would return to nearby Sophocleous Street after finding shelter for a few years at the Sotiria Hospital.
Even though the organization has yet to set up office, drug dealers have already started business, “setting up shop” in the surrounding streets of Sophocleous, Evripidou, Socratous and Menandrou, to name a few, as well as Theatrou Square.
“After 2011 the situation had shown such a marked improvement that we couldn’t believe it, as children played and rode their bicycles in Koumoundourou Square,” resident Vaso Nikolakopoulou told Kathimerini.
But now, according to Nikolakopoulou and other locals, drug dealing is the name of the game on the square, which, at any given time, could have up to 30 dealers doing business.
And the fact that the central offices of ruling SYRIZA are located on the square and a riot police bus is parked outside doesn’t seem to make any difference to authorities.
“Every time we go tell [riot police] to do something, they respond they don’t have the authority to do anything,” said S from China, who has run a business in the area since 1999.