Greek police on Thursday announced the dismantling of what they identified as six criminal gangs and sub-groups involved in various crimes, ranging from drug trafficking, theft, pickpocketing, fence operations, counterfeiting and fraud in the greater Athens area.

Police raids and sweeps resulted in 50 arrests on charges of forming a criminal enterprise and various other felonies.

Authorities said the criminal gangs also cooperated via an organized network to facilitate their separate criminal activities. The gangs and subgroups would dispose of the stolen goods through a fencing operation.

Organizing Fence Networks

This subgroup, consisting of 24 members, coordinated the actions of the entire criminal network, and would receive stolen goods from other gang members, who stored them either in their homes or in health-related establishments, essentially “storefront” businesses. Specific members of this subgroup also reportedly coordinated the trafficking of drugs.

Two of the criminal groups, consisting of 94 Romanians and 34 Albanians, operated a pickpocketing and theft network targeting tourists and locals in mass transit systems and popular tourist areas in the center of Athens. The suspects were also engaged in drug trafficking and circulating counterfeit currency.

Theft from Vehicles, Residences

Another gang, reportedly made up of 19 individuals of Arab origin was involved in car thefts and burglaries of residences and shops in central Athens. The group would also sell the stolen goods to fences.

Before the police sweep law enforcement officers had arrested more than 80 suspects. Additionally, authorities initiated deportation proceedings for at least 60 of the suspects, as they were found to be in the country illegally.

Several of the suspects were later identified as having convictions in various EU countries for similar offenses.

The illegal financial gains of the network’s criminal activities reportedly exceed 1.2 million euros.

Additionally, the investigation netted one suspect in the murder of a foreign national in Athens in March 2023, while another man was identified as the perpetrator of the attempted manslaughter of three local men in Athens’ Gazi district last December.

All of the arrested suspects were led before prosecutors, while the investigation continues in order to identify and apprehend other alleged gang members.