NEWS

Ecstasy’s cross-border trail

In the wake of a record haul of ecstasy tablets on Tuesday, Public Order Minister Giorgos Voulgarakis will be meeting with his Bulgarian counterpart today and tomorrow while on an official visit aimed at stopping the flood of illicit drugs from Greece’s northern neighbor. Bulgaria has recently become the major producer of the designer drug in the region, with authorities there confiscating about 3 tons of ecstasy drugs there in 2004. So far this year, about 2 tons of ecstasy tablets have been confiscated, a senior Bulgarian law and order officer told Kathimerini’s Dora Antoniou. Given that each ton comprises 5-6,000 tablets, and the pills have a street value of 10 euros in Greece, one can understand the size of Bulgaria’s production. Police believe that most of the designer drug produced in Bulgaria crosses Greece on its way to the Middle East, where each pill can fetch up to 40 euros, due to increased demand and the risks incurred by drug smugglers. The raw materials are believed to come from Asian countries, such as Pakistan and India. Last week, Voulgarakis was in Pakistan, where he signed an agreement for joint action against the drug trade. This involves the exchange of information, joint training on issues pertaining to border controls and the exchange of technological know-how. Greece is also making a concerted effort to stem the flow of drugs from Albania, which is currently the main source of narcotics entering Greece. Athens will also be hosting a meeting of Pakistani, Turkish and Iranian officials soon, in an effort to deal with organized crime, including narcotics trafficking. Meanwhile, the three men arrested with 100,000 ecstasy pills in Myconos and Thessaloniki on Tuesday appeared before a public prosecutor. Police are trying to learn the source of the drugs and who their accomplices were.