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ATHENS – As Greece is being inundated by waves of illegal immigrants and beseeching the European Union for more aid, an investigation by the Greek Police (ELAS) Internal Affairs department has reportedly found cops, Coast Guard leaders and agents of the National Intelligence Service (EYP) to rackets helping smuggle them in.

Three top-ranking officers of the Coast Guard have been implicated in the operation of human trafficking, the newspaper Kathimerini said, citing unnamed sources.

Their exact role wasn’t spelled out as corruption prosecutors who have been given the report by internal affairs officers are trying to determine the level of their involvement. Nobody was named, a common practice in Greece.

Alternate Minister for Shipping Theodoris Dritsas is said to have been briefed too. Interior Minister Nikos Voutsis, Citizens’ Protection Minister Yiannis Panousis and EYP chief Yiannis Roubatis met May 29 discuss the findings of the report and Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is also expected to be informed due to the seriousness of the affair.

One of the main suspects has tied to Tsipras’ ruling Radical Left SYRIZA party. The newspaper said the suspect, 66, was approached in 2007 to stand as a candidate in Piraeus with SYRIZA in general elections.

Officers were said to have recorded telephone conversations between the suspect and a member of the police’s Aliens’ Bureau who is alleged to have released irregular immigrants on the instructions of human traffickers, indicating that police are taking their orders from criminals they are supposed to arrest.

In the phone calls, reference is made to removing Panousis from his position because of fears he would try to stop the traffickers, although it wasn’t revealed whether that included the alleged participation by Greek law enforcement officials themselves.

The suspect was investigated by officers of the police’s counter-terrorism unit in 2008 and 2009 due to suspicions that he was helping supply weapons to terrorist groups, the newspaper said.

All this comes as Tsipras has instructed the removal of illegal immigrants from detention camps and back into the general population and as his government is moving to release terrorists and other hardened criminals from jail.

Human trafficking, including bringing illegal immigrants as well as unsuspecting women and children into Greece to be used as prostitutes and sex slaves is a highly lucrative scheme that has been condemned by international human rights groups but is said to flourish in the country.

US FINDS FAULT

In 2013, the US State Department said in its annual report that Greece was doing too little to stop human trafficking, including going after government officials and agents allegedly working with smuggling rings.

According to the report, Greece is a primarily a Tier 2 transit and destination for trafficking, rather than source.

The report showed that women from Albania, Belarus, Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Russia, Romania, Ukraine, Georgia, Nigeria, and some Asian countries are victims of sex trafficking in Greece.

Men, mostly from Afghanistan, Albania, Bangladesh, Bulgaria, India, Moldova, Pakistan and Romania, often fall victim to forced labor, mostly in the agricultural and construction sectors, it said.

The report also indicates that hundreds of children, mostly gypsies from Albania and Romania, also are forced to work cheap or without pay and are forced to beg or commit petty theft.

The report noted that little progress had then been made in Greece to do much to stop the traffickers despite some arrests.

The report pointed out there had been no prosecution or arrests of Greek officials accused of being involved in human trafficking rings, particularly low-ranking police officers paid to look the other way or to help in the operations.

Last year, the US State Department said there had been progress in tackling the trafficking, contradicted now by the Greek police report.

The US said that women are brought to Greece through the Aegean islands and the Greek-Turkish border in Evros and taken to Athens and other major cities to be “subjected to trafficking as prostitution is legal. Women are transported through Greece for sexual exploitation and forced labor in Italy and other European Union countries, the report added.

“The government is more strict” against perpetrators compared to the previous year and had done more to tackle the problem, arresting more traffickers but no officials said to be involved.

 

The post Greek Cops, Coast Guard, Intelligence Linked to Human Trafficking Rings appeared first on The National Herald.

Source: The National Herald
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