NEWS

Major cocaine haul in Piraeus

Over 200 kilos of Colombian cocaine were confiscated in Piraeus harbor yesterday during a joint operation by drugs, customs and coast guard authorities. The seizure came 10 weeks after 205 kilos of the same drug were impounded in Preveza, western Greece. A laconic statement by the Ministry of Economy and Finance’s financial crime squad (SDOE) said «investigations are being carried out to identify and arrest those responsible.» SDOE said it would provide further details today. But police sources yesterday said the consignment had been in two large sacks inside a ship container of rice which had been loaded in Bogota, Colombia, and reached the Iconio docks, southwest of the main port of Piraeus, in mid-December. The shipment had been routed through Barcelona. Probably working on a tip-off, SDOE, the narcotics squad, the coast guard and customs officials kept the suspect container under surveillance, waiting for somebody to turn up and claim it. Yesterday’s seizure is one of the largest in the last 10 years. Following a tip-off from American narcotics officers, police in Preveza in late October seized 205 kilos of Colombian cocaine which had been hidden in a local hotel after being set ashore on a remote beach by a launch from the Tonga-flagged Saturn motorship. Five people were arrested in Athens and Preveza, including the owner of the Nikos Hotel, Michalis Tsoumanis, to whom the Saturn is believed to belong. Dutch smugglers are understood to have been involved. In 1995, 245 kilos of cocaine were discovered in the hold of the Kleovoulos of Rodos in the port of Aliveri on Evia. Scully murder