Crackdown on Exarchia drug gang ‘extremely successful,’ says minister

12 July 2016
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Police on Monday night completed a large-scale operation to crack down on a drug gang operating in and around the downtown Athens district of Exarchia, where there have been frequent conflicts between police, dealers and self-styled anarchists for many years.

The deployment of at least 65 police officers in the area led to the arrest of 12 suspects – 10 Albanian nationals and two Greeks –believed to be behind a larger drug-trafficking network that has been active in the area for at least a decade and to have frequently clashed with anarchist groups that are also present in Exarchia.

“This was an extremely successful operation that was the result of planning and gathering information over several months,” Citizens’ Protection Minister Nikos Toskas said of the crackdown, which included searches on homes and professional premises.

“An operation of this scale had not been conducted in this area for more than 30 years,” the minister told the ANA-MPA news agency on Tuesday morning. “The group that was dismantled was not made up of small-scale dealers.”

The crackdown came in the wake of a proclamation published on an anti-establishment website on the weekend in which a new group calling itself “Armed Militia Groups” claimed responsibility for the execution-style murder of a 36-year-old Egyptian man suspected of drug trafficking in Exarchia on July 17.

Police seized 16 kilograms of cannabis, as well as cocaine and other narcotic substances.

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