Preveza drug seizure points to coke cartel

Police in Athens and western Greece arrested five suspected members of an international cocaine smuggling cartel, confiscating 205 kilos of the drug in a Preveza hotel, sources said yesterday. Working on a tip-off from the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) in September, the Greek coast guard placed under surveillance the Tonga-flagged motorship Saturn, which sailed from Colombia and arrived in Greece in October after a stop in Portugal. The crew was seen to unload a number of packages onto a remote beach near the western town of Preveza, and narcotics squad officers followed the consignment to the Nikos Hotel in Preveza. Undercover officers then approached gang members to negotiate a purchase. Five arrests were made in Athens and Preveza, including the hotel owner, Michalis Tsoumanis, who is believed to be the motorship’s owner. A search of the hotel revealed 205 kilos of cocaine. The Saturn, was impounded in Piraeus. Another four people are being sought, while sources say Dutch businessmen may be involved in the cartel.

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