The Justice Ministry yesterday denied the existence of a drug-smuggling ring inside Greece’s largest prison after three women died in their cells and another two became seriously ill following a New Year’s Eve drug and alcohol binge. In statements yesterday, Justice Minister Philippos Petsalnikos said Greece has the lowest rate of prison deaths from drug abuse in the European Union. «But there is no way to fully eradicate the problem, as the means has yet to be found to render prisons completely impermeable to drugs,» he said. «Prisoners find endless ways of smuggling drugs into prison, particularly when they return from a furlough.» But Petsalnikos insisted that there was no truth in claims that organized prison gangs, with the collusion of guards, regularly smuggle drugs into Greece’s penitentiaries. Around 3 a.m. on New Year’s Eve, warders found Maria Michail, 19, Alexandra Voulgari, 23, and Dimitra Hadzidimitriou, 41, dead in their cells. According to the prison doctor, their deaths were due to consumption of heroin, alcohol and anti-depressants. All three were being held in pretrial detention – Michail for armed robbery and the others for drug-dealing. Another inmate was safe after suffering a vomiting fit, while a fifth was hospitalized out of danger. Police said the heroin had allegedly been smuggled into the Korydallos women’s section – in an annex of which most of the November 17 terrorist suspects are held in solitary confinement – by Dora Carmen Villaba, the mother of inmate Sophia Maria Bakea, who had been convicted for drugs smuggling. Villaba was arrested on New Year’s Eve.