NEWS

Greece a major drug gateway

Greece is a major transit point for drugs flowing into Western Europe, and has the continent’s second-highest rate of deaths due to drug overdoses, according to a US State Department report for 2003 published yesterday. Quoting Greek and US anti-narcotics authorities, the document said «a dramatic rise» has occurred in the number and size of drug-trafficking organizations in Greece. The report said heroin from Turkey, hashish from the Middle East and heroin and marijuana from Southwest Asia are smuggled through Greece to Western Europe, while tons of marijuana and smaller quantities of other drugs enter the country from all of its northern neighbors. It said Nigerian gangs smuggle heroin and cocaine through Athens Airport, and, increasingly, through the Aegean islands from Turkey. The report praised cooperation between Greek and US law enforcement officials, adding that although Greek law enforcement officers are «generally undertrained, underpaid, underappreciated and overworked,» corruption regarding narcotics is «relatively low.»