Greek police say they seized nearly 1.2 tonnes of cocaine and arrested eight alleged members of an international drug trafficking gang.
Almost all of the cocaine, 1.18 tonnes, was found during a raid at a house in the western Greek port of Astakos yesterday, police spokesman Theodoros Chronopoulos said today.
The drugs were carefully packaged in 1040 nylon bags, ready to be distributed to intermediaries, Chronopoulos said.
Four more home raids in the Athens area yielded a small amount of cocaine, some cannabis, an AK-47 assault rifle and three pistols. Police also seized over 233,000 euros (NZD$388,600) in cash and impounded five vehicles.
Major General Petros Tzeferis, head of the Attica Security Directorate, said the cocaine came from the Caribbean and was destined to countries in Europe and northwest Africa.
Tzeferis said the investigation took six months and Greek police were aided by colleagues in Albania and Spain, as well as the Drug Enforcement Administration office at the US Embassy in Athens.
Chronopoulos said the drug gang's leaders were two permanent residents of Spain, with several Albanian citizens as underlings. Police were looking for nine alleged members not yet under arrest.
Two of the people already detained were guarding the stash at the house in Astakos, Chronopoulos said. Three other suspects who allegedly rented a van to pick up the packaged cocaine also were arrested.
Tzeferis said that some of those arrested were already known to police. Four had prior arrests; one had been arrested five times, for armed robbery, attempted murder and drug offenses.
Tzeferis added that the gang's estimated earnings from drug dealing "exceed 50 million euros" (NZD$83.4 million).