Greek police arrest 28 in Georgian and Russian extortion ring
Following an 18 month investigation into a protection racket operating in Northern Greece, police have arrested 28 people suspected of involvement in an extortion ring. Those arrested were ethnic Greeks with links to Georgia and Russia.
An 18 month investigation has resulted in the arrests of 28 people suspected of being involved in a large extortion ring operated by criminals with links to Georgia and Russia. The extortion ring was operated in Thessalonoki and other areas of Northern Greece.
According to the Athens News
most of the criminal activity revolved around protection rackets. Businesses and individuals were forced to pay protection money and borrow money from the criminals acting as loan sharks. Targeted businesses included night clubs and street kiosks which are prevalent across Greek.
report that Thessaloniki Security Police Chief Athinagoras Pazarlis, said kiosk owners were forced to pay 300 εuros a week in protection money, whilst night clubs were charged a much higher rate. The criminal group is estimated to have made at least half a million εuros from the racket.
The homes of suspects were searched, uncovering drugs, weapons and cash, and those arrested face charges of
“Blackmail, attempted murder, grievous bodily harm, usury and money laundering.”
Police have revealed that the extortion ring was run by ethnic Greeks from Georgia and Russia. Money was sent back to Georgia by the criminal ring.
Earlier this year a Stockholm Paper
was published by the Institute for Security and Development Policies. The paper analyzed the issue of Russian Speaking Organized Crime Groups in the E.U. (RSOCG) and reported that RSOCG’s were operating in Greece and had established co-operative relations with local criminal groups.
The paper highlighted two RSOCG’s whose primary criminal activity in Greece focused on drug dealing, human trafficking, and involvement in fur and leather businesses. Criminal gangs supply women via human trafficking to night clubs and brothels in Greece. The two main criminal gangs were identified as the Sukumskaya and the Chealkinskaya, both named after cities in Georgia.
Greek police are due to an announcement regarding those arrested in Greece.