Two Greek Albanian men arrested in Thessaloniki in January 2021 over a case of 324 kilos of cocaine worth at least 30 million euros received life sentences by a criminal appeals court on Monday.
A third man involved in the case received a 15-year jail sentence after the court considered mitigating circumstances.
Counter-narcotics police officers had arrested the three in collaboration with the US Drug Enforcement Agency following a tip that the first two men, members of the Greek diaspora of Albania, aged 39 and 37, would travel from Athens to Thessaloniki to receive a cocaine shipment. The two told the court they were joint owners of a company renting a hotel on the island of Rhodes.
The third man, a Serb national aged 38, had arrived in Thessaloniki with the cocaine shipment with a fellow national, 34 and rented a short-term apartment in the Xyladika section of Vardaris. Police arrested three of them while the cocaine shipment was being transferred from a minibus to a private car. The 34-year-old Serb escaped and is being sought.
The head of Thessaloniki’s drug enforcement unit said “it is certain the shipment came from Latin America” and expressed the opinion that a lot more people were involved due to its size.
Those who received the life sentences consistently denied any link to the drug and claimed they were framed, while the 38-year-old Serb admitted his guilt and said he assumed the risk because of personal debts. He said he was living in London and had been arrested carrying a fake Croatian passport. Although he knew the case involved drugs, he claimed he was not aware of the quantity or type of drug.
All three were sent back to jail after the court decision.