NEWS

Police hunt for Greek coke boss

Police in Belgium and its neighbors are hunting for two Greeks who are the subjects of international arrest warrants on suspicion of being at the head of a major cocaine-smuggling gang, following the Spanish authorities’ confiscation of 5.4 tons of cocaine aboard an old trawler off Spain. The raid on the Africa 1 shortly after midnight on Monday capped a two-year investigation by Greek police and international cooperation. According to Greek police officials, the two suspects are businessmen Alexandros Angelopoulos, 40, and Nikos Antonakakis, 48. The former is said to be the head of the gang and the person who was in contact with Colombia’s cocaine cartel. Antonakakis was his right-hand man. Police say Angelopoulos owned a fleet of large trawlers through a complicated network of offshore companies and used them to transfer cocaine. Two years ago, the Narcotics Squad in Athens got a tip on a Greek known by the nickname of Fat Man who transferred large loads of cocaine aboard Greek-owned ships. The Finance Ministry police and the Coast Guard helped identify the suspect as Angelopoulos. Last November, the Greek police tipped off their Dutch counterparts, who raided one of the ships but found nothing. Last April, the Greeks saw that Angelopoulos had bought the Africa 1 through an associate, paying 650,000 euros in cash. The US Drug Enforcement Agency kept watch via satellite surveillance. The trawler declared it was sailing from Greece to Turkey but sailed west instead. On June 15 it stopped off Brazil for four days before turning back. On Monday, three Greek officers were among the boarding party that raided the Africa 1 near Gibraltar. They found the cocaine in cartons purporting to hold mineral water. The five crewmen arrested were four Greeks (Captain Manolis Dadavanis, 49, Dimitris Tsiopelakis, 57, Giorgos Manolatos, 58, Stelios Mesinezis, 37) and Italian Sandro Angelo Savio, 48. Three of the Greeks were on the ship raided in Holland. In Greece, police arrested Nikos Gavrilis, 44, and Nikos Marangoudakis, 47, and Apostolos Bousios, 28. Angelopoulos allegedly declared in the last two years he had won 8 million euros in soccer pools.