ATHENS – Even as a Greek police gangbusters squad operation has gone after underworld figures in a bid to quell rising violence, a 39-year-old Albanian reportedly part of protection racket extorting money from brothels was gunned down.
He was identified only by his initials K.I. Greek privacy laws limit publication of names although it's often violated for celebrities, politicians and other public figures, but not always for crime stories.
The victim, said Kathimerini, was known to police as a member of a protection gang and was shot while he was at a sidewalk cafe afer having survived a car bombing assassination attempt in 2010.
He didn't survive the shooting, with reports he was hit with at least eight bullets as he sat at the cafe near Athens' main railway station, dying in a hospital of wounds to his head and stomach.
Investigators are also looking into possible links with drug-trafficking rackets, the paper said, as police continue to mobilize against rival organized crime gangs who have conducted a spate of assassinations.
A task force was set up earlier by the Citizens’ Protection Ministry that will unify the Attica Security Directorate divisions responsible for organized crime, homicide and narcotics, the paper reported previously.
A key element will be including the Management and Information Analysis Directorate, which is essentially an intelligence unit aimed at gathering information on what mob leaders are planning.
With gang hits spinning out of control, victims shot dead in drive-by gundowns, the scenes of violence have officials worried, the task force also due to combine its work with other divisions.
Code named Mani Pulite – an Italian anti-corruption 1990s operation meaning “Clean Hands” – Greek anti-mob teams are going to target organized crime in the country, it was said.
That came after a report on the structure and operation of Greece’s powerful criminal groups, a 100-page document prepared by security services and given to Supreme Court prosecutor Vassilis Pliotas.
What sparked it now seems to be the still unsolved gunning down of investigative journalist Giorgos Karaivaz outside his Athens home, shot dead by a man on the back of a two-person motorcycle, who then got off and delivered two final bullets to the head to then finish him off.
The report, the paper said, identified at least 20 protection rackets, three in Attica, but also in Patra, Agrinio, Zakynthos, Kalamata and the popular tourist island of Mykonos, notorious for tax evasion and flouting the law.
In July, a month after that news, authorities said Zakynthos will get police reinforcements in the wake of the murder of a businessman and gangsterism, the island known for hooliganism and rowdy night clubs attracting troublemakers.