Stay up to date with notifications from The Independent

Notifications can be managed in browser preferences.

Manhunt for ‘British Escobar’ after Greek police seize £12m of cocaine in banana shipment

Police are hunting a fifth man wanted in connection with the seizures

Thomas Kingsley
Wednesday 15 June 2022 16:30 BST
Greek police seize 300kg of cocaine in Athens drug raid

Four Britons have been arrested after a raid on a luxury Greek villa where £12 million worth of cocaine was seized.

Police have now launched a manhunt for a fifth person wanted in connection with the seizure who is believed to be a drug kingpin who has been dubbed the “British Escobar.”

The suspects from London and Liverpool, aged 38, 45, 48, and 52, allegedly smuggled the huge 660lbs haul in a banana shipment from Colombia to the port city of Thessaloniki, intended for distribution across Europe and Australia.

One of the men in the alleged ring is the brother of a major British drugs baron known as a “modern Pablo Escobar”, 41, who is said to be responsible for 10 per cent of the global cocaine trade while two of those arrested are reportedly “leaders of an international drug trafficking ring.”

£12 million of cocaine was seized from the property (Hellenic Police)

Footage from the raid on 10 June shows armed police storming the villa ahead of the arrests, while separate drone footage shows a shipment being transferred from one white van to another at the property.

The arrests followed an international law enforcement operation that also involved Italian customs authorities and the US Drug Enforcement Administration, Greek officials said.

The arrests were part of an operation between the US, Italian and Greek authorities (Hellenic Police)

The suspects have been charged with trafficking in the form of import, transport and possession, and being part of a criminal organisation. Police say the 660lbs of cocaine is linked to the 1,440lbs haul found by Italian police in Calabria in April.

Authorities believe the latest bust was a different arm of the same international trafficking ring.

In both cases, the narcotics came from South America in banana shipments for distribution in Europe.

Greek officials say the drugs were set for Europe and Australia (Hellenic Police)

Earlier this year the largest seizure of cocaine in the UK in seven years was made, according to the Home Office. Nearly four tonnes of cocaine was found in Southampton again in boxes of bananas.

The containers had recently arrived in the city’s dock from Colombia and Border Force and the National Crime Agency targeted them for inspection.

They discovered more than 3.7 tonnes of cocaine hydrochloride, used to make crack cocaine, concealed within a container of 20 pallets of bananas last month.

Home secretary Priti Patel said: “This is the largest seizure of cocaine in the UK since 2015. It should serve as a warning to anyone trying to smuggle illegal drugs into the country that we are out to get them.”

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in