NEWS

A gang’s ‘multistore’ outside AUEB

a-gang-amp-8217-s-amp-8216-multistore-amp-8217-outside-aueb

The attack on plainclothes policemen took place on the afternoon of last September 14, only eight days after Hellenic Police (ELAS) had started monitoring the foreigners who were using the main building of the Athens University of Economics and Business (AUEB) as their launchpad to sell drugs, contraband cigarettes and imitation brand items on the streets around the university.

At 3:30 p.m., and with the policemen mistakenly thinking they had not be spotted, about 50 anarchists wearing full-face helmets or hoods attacked the policemen with rocks, broken marble pieces and wooden sticks.

According to plainclothes police accounts, the attack was organized and coordinated by a 46-year-old from Bangladesh and a 43-year-old Senegalese. These two foreign citizens controlled the illicit trade inside and around AUEB an d had pointed out the “undercover” policemen to the anarchists.

The 50 hooded anarchists divided into three groups and exited the university's three gates simultaneously carrying bats and chasing the policemen. The two foreigners joined them, covering their faces with scarves. The policemen ran for their lives and avoided a certain beating.

Policemen found that, around the university, a large network of spotters was operating with the mission to protect the “AUEB core,” the migrants from Senegal, Nigeria, Somalia, Iran, Afghanistan and Bangladesh that were selling the drugs, contraband cigarettes and imitation brand goods.

The police operation lasted three-and-a-half months and concluded on December 22 with 36 arrests, including the two ringleaders who had organized the attack on police.

“He set up the teams of lookouts and traders. He arrived daily at 7:30 a.m. And did not leave before 5:30 p.m. and coordinated everything. He orchestrated the attack on the policemen, pointing them out to the groups that came out from inside the university,” says the police report on the 46-year-old Bangladeshi. ELAS says a similar road was played by the 43-year-old Senegalese partner.

The initial stage of the operation lasted from September 6-14. During this period, it was observed that about 30 migrants were employed between 8:30 a.m. and 10 p.m. every day. They sold on average about 100 handbags, shoes and glasses, all imitations of well-known brands; 1,500 cartons of contraband cigarettes and 20 fixes of heroin and crystal meth. Daily turnover was estimated from 5,000 to 10,000 euros.

Police also found out that six individuals acted as lookouts on the corners of Patission Avenue and Heyden, Derigny and Antoniadou streets. When they saw uniformed police officers or suspected that plainclothes police were around, they  told the other members who swiftly moved the stuff inside AUEB. Greece's “asylum” law protecting universities prevented police from raiding the premises.

A warehouse of a yard

Outside AUEB's central gate, eight individuals were selling contraband cigarettes and four were dealing heroin and, especially, crystal meth, also known as sisa. The drugs were stored in the school's courtyard, near the gate. When they exited AUEB to meet their clients, the sellers hit the drugs in their mouths.

Also, 20 migrants were employed selling the imitation brands. They initially stored the goods on flats they rented at Aharnon, Drossopoulou and Kypselis streets. Then, they transported them inside the university, after the lookouts had made sure the way was free of police presence. The operation turned up links to an illicit trade network in Thessaloniki, in northern Greece, and overland imports of imitation brands from Turkey.

The conversation

Policemen started to monitor suspects' cellphones, picking up highly significant conversations. On the morning of October 6, for example, the following conversation between two African traders was recorded:

A. How many items should I bring?

B. 40 Hermes, 50 Gucci.

A. I don't have all gold Gucci's, I got in silver

B. I want all the gold ones you've got. Put also some plaid Louis Vuittons.

The conversation also revealed that the goods would be exchanged at an intercity bus terminal, on Kifissou Avenue.

A similar revealing conversation between two different team members on the night of December 11:

A. X also brought some belts.

B. Belts? What belts?

A. Gucci, Hermes, whatever you want.

Β: How much?

Α: 5 euros.

Β: Isn't that too much?

Α: No, it's not.

Most of the arrested people had been so in the past, for similar activities. The 46-year-old Bangladeshi had been arrested three times since 2016 for illicit trade in nearby neighborhoods.