Greece: A Drug-Smuggling Case With Global Implications

The true culprit, however, is the “deep state” … It is an open secret by now that heroin revenues are used by Middle East regimes to fund terrorist organizations, such as ISIS, Hezbollah, Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood. The case of the Noor 1 illustrates one of the ways that both the drugs themselves and terrorist operations are exported to Europe. Ironically, Greece, a country in poverty and beholden to Germany and the European Union to keep it afloat, appears manipulated from within by malevolent forces posing as legitimate members of the elite. The complete dismantling of the drug-terrorism circuit is not only a pressing issue for Greece. It is an international security imperative.

Editor’s note: The author mentions Iran repeatedly. The primary source for heroin is Afghanistan where the poppy fields are guarded and protected by the US military. Iran has been fighting a battle for years to prevent herion from crossings its borders. Iran, which has a 900-kilometer common border with Afghanistan, has been used as the main conduit for smuggling Afghan drugs to narcotics kingpins in Europe. In February 2017 Iranian Police Smashed Int’l Drug Ring, And Arrested the ‘Sultan of Heroin’

 by Maria Polizoidou via The Gatestone Institute,

  • Greek Defense Minister Panos Kammenos. (Photo by Yorgos Karahalis-POOL/Getty Images)

    If even the partial information that Efthimios (Makis) Yiannousakis revealed during the interviews is true, the upper echelons of Greek society have good reason to want to silence him.

  • The true culprit, however, is the “deep state” and its links to Iran, through the drug trade. It is an open secret by now that heroin revenues are used by Middle East regimes to fund terrorist and other questionable organizations, such as ISIS, Hezbollah, Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood. The case of the Noor 1 illustrates one of the ways that both the drugs themselves and terrorist operations are exported to Europe.
  • The possible direct and indirect involvement of figures at the highest levels of Greek society makes it nearly impossible for the government alone to get to the bottom of the case, and protect key witnesses from bodily harm. It needs help now, preferably from the U.S. Justice Department and security agencies. The complete dismantling of the drug-terrorism circuit is not only a pressing issue for Greece. It is an international security imperative.

New details surrounding a three-year-old drug-smuggling case in Greece are causing a political storm that could have global implications.

In June 2014, the Greek Coast Guard uncovered and seized 986 kilograms of heroin stashed in a warehouse in a suburb of Athens, and another 1,133 kilograms in two other locations, claiming that the more than two tons of drugs — valued at $30 million — had been smuggled on a tanker, the “Noor 1,” from the “territorial waters between Oman and Pakistan.”

As was reported by Gatestone last December, the heroin, which was to be distributed throughout Europe — in addition to 18 tons of oil also smuggled on the Noor 1 — originated in Iran. Two years later, in August 2016, a criminal court in Piraeus sentenced five of the defendants, two Greeks and three foreign nationals, to life imprisonment. Among these was the (now former) owner of the Noor 1, Efthimios (Makis) Yiannousakis.

The Noor 1 case, and particularly Yiannousakis’s role in it, has hit the headlines again, due to a leaked recording of a telephone conversation he had with Greek Defense Minister Panos Kammenos. In the conversation, Kammenos allegedly asked Yiannousakis to turn state witness against a certain businessman connected to the heroin smuggling, in exchange for amnesty.

After coming under fire from members of the opposition, Kammenos claimed that it was Yiannousakis who had requested — through journalist Makis Triantafyllopoulos — judicial protection in exchange for testimony. “As it was my duty to do, I immediately informed the prosecutor and the responsible minister,” Kammenos said.

According to Triantafyllopoulos, who has been covering the case from the outset and has interviewed Yiannousakis extensively, Yiannousakis fears that the information he is willing to reveal puts him at risk. He has appealed for American protection for him and his family, so that he can speak freely about all aspects of the case.

Yiannousakis’ apprehension is well-founded. Since the smuggling case emerged, several witnesses were murdered or have died of “unknown causes”. In addition, the judge presiding over the trial received a bomb in a package sent to his home. The explosive, which was filled with razor blades and screws and placed inside a hollowed-out book, was detonated by bomb squad agents before it had a chance to kill its recipient — a day after the prosecutor recommended life sentences for the five main suspects.

Furthermore, between the first and second telephone interviews he gave to Triantafyllopoulos, Yiannousakis was transferred from a correctional facility to a closed prison, which he believes is a move by the authorities — a web of political, financial and media elites implicated in the affair — to put psychological pressure on him to keep his mouth shut. If even the partial information that he revealed during the interviews is true, the upper echelons of Greek society have good reason to want to silence him.

What he indicated was that the amount of heroin transferred to the Noor 1 from an Iranian ship was far greater than that which was seized by the Greek Coast Guard. He claimed that it was not 2.1 tons, but rather 3 tons that were found, and that the extra 900 kilograms were taken by Vangelis Marinakis — a powerful businessman, shipowner, member of the Piraeus city council and owner of the football (soccer) clubs Olympiacos in Greece and Nottingham Forest in Britain — who sold it to a network of Serbian drug dealers. He also accused Marinakis of being involved in illegal oil-trafficking in the Persian Gulf.

These allegations, if accurate, are particularly startling, given Marinakis’s newfound control over much of the media in Greece, and extensive ties to the foreign media. He recently purchased the Lambrakis Press Group (DOL) and a 22.1% stake of the private Greek network MEGA TV. According to Triantafyllopoulos, this is only the tip of the iceberg where Marinakis’s media holdings are concerned.

Marinakis denies the allegations; he says that they were concocted by the government to counter the loss of control over the media. Yet, there is no denying what is behind Marinakis’ desire to buy newspapers, radio stations and television networks, all of which have been losing money and are in serious debt. In other words, it is not for immediate financial gain that he has spent tens of millions of euros on bad investments, but rather for long-term political and economic influence at home and abroad. Clearly, his strategy is working: he is considered today one of the most powerful men in Greece.

The complexities of this case have become the source of a fierce confrontation between the government, headed by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and President Kyriakos Mitsotakis, and the opposition New Democracy Party, headed by Kyriakos Mitsotakis. Each blames the other for ties to the Noor 1 protagonists and culpability in the case. The true culprit, however, is the “deep state” and its links to Iran through the drug trade. It is an open secret by now that heroin revenues are used by Middle East regimes to fund terrorist organizations, such as ISIS, Hezbollah, Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood. The case of the Noor 1 illustrates one of the ways that both the drugs themselves and terrorist operations are exported to Europe.

Ironically, Greece, a country in poverty and beholden to Germany and the European Union to keep it afloat, appears manipulated from within by malevolent forces posing as legitimate members of the elite.

The possible direct and indirect involvement of figures at the highest levels of Greek society makes it nearly impossible for the government alone to get to the bottom of the case, and protect key witnesses from bodily harm. It needs help now, preferably from the U.S. Justice Department and security agencies. The complete dismantling of the drug-terrorism circuit is not only a pressing issue for Greece. It is an international security imperative.

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