Drug gangs mov­ing into in­ner city

Af­ter respite of a few years, Koumoundourou Square back in hands of deal­ers

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

Res­i­dents and shopown­ers in and around Koumoundourou Square in cen­tral Athens are up in arms as the area has be­come the play­ground of drug smug­glers and gangs, with the stench of a place aban­doned by au­thor­i­ties. Lo­cals are be­moan­ing the area’s down­hill turn as in re­cent years it had shed its shady rep­u­ta­tion as a drug gang han­gout. But all this changed around 18 months ago when it was an­nounced that the OKANA, the Greek Or­ga­ni­za­tion Against Drugs, would re­turn to nearby Sopho­cleous Street af­ter find­ing shel­ter for a few years at the Sotiria Hospi­tal. Even though the or­ga­ni­za­tion has yet to set up of­fice, drug deal­ers have al­ready started business, “set­ting up shop” in the sur­round­ing streets of Sopho­cleous and Evripi­dou, to name a few, as well as Theatrou Square.

“Af­ter 2011 the sit­u­a­tion had shown such a marked im­prove­ment that we couldn’t be­lieve it, as chil­dren played and rode their bi­cy­cles in Koumoundourou Square,” res­i­dent Vaso Niko­lakopoulou told Kathimerini.

But now drug deal­ing is the name of the game on the square, which, at any given time, could have up to 30 deal­ers do­ing business.

And the fact that the cen­tral of­fices of SYRIZA are lo­cated on the square and a riot po­lice bus is parked out­side doesn’t seem to make any dif­fer­ence to au­thor­i­ties. “Ev­ery time we go tell [riot po­lice] to do some­thing, they re­spond they don’t have the author­ity to do any­thing,” said S from China, who has run a business in the area since 1999.

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