Arrests for festive cocaine imports

A Greek resident in South America believed to be involved in large cocaine shipments to Europe has been arrested on drug trafficking charges in Athens together with another two suspects, police said yesterday. The three had allegedly smuggled a quantity of Venezuelan cocaine into Greece through the Netherlands, ahead of an anticipated leap in demand over Christmas and New Year. Their arrest followed a tip-off several weeks ago that an Albanian living in Athens was conspiring to import a large consignment of the drug during the holidays, in cooperation with a Greek living in Venezuela and a Venezuelan. Police first located the Albanian, Yorgo Bezo. He was placed under surveillance, and led officers to Giorgos Garoufalakis, 51, and Venezuelan national Jesus Pernia Hernandez, who had recently arrived in Athens and stayed in a succession of hotels. All three were arrested, and officers found 2.3 kilos of cocaine and 271 grams of heroin in their possession. Police said Garoufalakis had been arrested by Venezuelan authorities in the past for involvement in a shipment of 196 kilos of cocaine to Spain. He was also wanted in Greece for drugs offenses.