NEWS

New arrest in cocaine bust

The owner of the Kalamata yachting marina was arrested in a luxury craft off the island of Kythera yesterday on suspicion of heading a gang that used an oceangoing yacht to smuggle over a ton of cocaine into Greece on Monday. The arrest of businessman Nikitas Kyriakoulis, 51, raised to seven the number of detained suspects in the cocaine-smuggling case, while yesterday police revised up to 850 kilos the quantity of cocaine seized in the southern Peloponnesian port of Kalamata on Monday. A further 205 kilos of the drug was discovered yesterday in a garage outside a Kalamata house where most of the cocaine was seized. It was the largest consignment of the drug ever confiscated in Greece, in a bust that was the fruit of cooperation between Greek authorities and the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). Kyriakoulis is believed to have masterminded the Colombian cocaine shipment. He was arrested on the basis of testimony by the other suspects, who were identified yesterday as Rigas Repanas, 35, skipper of the Plouton yacht on which part of the consignment was found, Elena Emmanouil, 28, Panayiotis Christou, 37, Constantinos Christou, 40, Italian national Giovanni Ubliano and Albanian national Kristak Ziu. Police are also seeking a Russian national who is believed to have been on the Plouton when she entered Kalamata harbor but managed to evade arrest when the first six suspects were caught on Monday. Following a tip-off three months ago, police mounted a surveillance operation on three of the suspects, who chartered the yacht. The vessel was kept under observation for several weeks, with the help of satellite tracking, and is believed to have taken on the cocaine after rendezvousing with a freighter off Martinique in the West Indies.