Tuesday, September 22, 2020

"How the seizure of Europe's largest heroin shipment created bloody fallout throughout the world"

Alexander Clapp for The New Republic:

The Kurds had spent years preparing for the heroin’s arrival. They had negotiated to pay more than $20 million for the Plaza Resort on the Attic Riviera, planning to use the tourist destination as a money-laundering site for proceeds from its sale. They had leased a warehouse and an industrial chicken coop in the olive groves near Athens International Airport; here, the Noor One’s heroin would be diluted with more than five tons of marble dust from a quarry on nearby Mount Pentelikon.

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“We got some sense of what we were dealing with when the dogs went berserk,” [a member of Greece's coast guard] told me. “Normally they sniff the heroin and move right toward it. But in this case, there was so much heroin, the dogs didn’t know where to go. They just started convulsing and barking violently.”


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The planners of the smuggling operation have turned on one another in a war of retribution that has left at least 17 people dead on three continents.

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Early on in the criminal investigation, authorities in Greece had allowed the most crucial figure in the operation to escape: the driver of the black SUV that had picked up the heroin when it arrived in Elefsina in June 2014. An Iranian Kurd, he sometimes went by the name Mohammed Diesel.

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In Greek newspapers, the Noor One is known as the “vampire ship”; the fallout from its bust gets reported in conspiratorial and, indeed, almost supernatural terms. Whenever the Noor One appears about to fade from national headlines, the story seems to will its way back into the fore. News flutters in of another strange murder, another inexplicable resignation of a prosecutor, another bomb in the mail. “THE NOOR ONE KILLS AGAIN,” read an Efimerida ton Syntakton headline in November 2019, after the death of the sixteenth person tied to the ship.

Much, much more, including a connection to the Trump administration.