NEWS

Greece no longer main route

Balkan countries have developed into a gateway for drugs intended for the rest of Europe. According to data recently presented by EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana at an international ministerial summit on crime in London, organized crime rings active in the former Yugoslavia control 70 percent of heroin shipments into Europe. Greek authorities have been talking for years of a change in the map of the drug trade, with traffickers now using new routes of their own choosing. Before the collapse of the Eastern bloc at the beginning of the 1990s, the most important land route for drugs from Asia to Europe led across the Greek-Turkish border on the Evros River. At the border post of Kipi, huge shipments of heroin were seized during the 1980s. Political changes in the Balkans and the accompanying chaos on a political, economic and institutional level wrought changes in drug routes, which now pass through Bulgaria, the former Yugoslavia and Albania. Hugely powerful criminal organizations arose in these countries, with the result that the Balkans have become a paradise for organized crime. The region not only acts as a conduit for drugs but also as an area where drugs are processed. Reports tell of the existence of large laboratories that process heroin and produce synthetic drugs.