NEWS

Greece, US fight drug traffickers

Greece is a «gateway» country in the transit of illicit drugs, mostly toward Western Europe, and it has the second highest annual per capita death rate from drug overdoses in Europe, the US State Department said in its 2002 report on narcotics. But, it noted, «cooperation between US and Greek law enforcement officials is exceptionally close and professional.» The «International Narcotics Control Strategy Report» was released on Saturday. It noted two particular episodes of cooperation. «In June 2002, French authorities, working with Greek authorities and the Drug Enforcement Agency, boarded a Greek ship that was attempting to smuggle 2 tons of cocaine to Latin America.» Eighteen people, including four Greeks, were arrested. «In spring 2002, Greek authorities dismantled an operation to smuggle cocaine and hashish from Central America to Europe, seizing 220 kilograms of cocaine and 702 kilograms of hashish.» The report said investigations «suggest that a dramatic rise has occurred in the number and size of drug-trafficking organizations operating in Greece.»