Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Greek mafia boss killed in hail of bullets

(BBC News) A mob-style murder at a petrol station in southern Athens has shone a light on the brutality of the Greek mafia.

A manhunt is underway for the killers of crime boss Vangelis Zambounis, who was gunned down earlier this week.

More than 90 rounds from a Kalashnikov rifle were fired at Zambounis, considered a powerful figure in the Greek criminal underworld.

He was alleged to have led an extortion ring and to have been involved in cigarette and fuel smuggling.

In CCTV video circulated hours after the killing in the early hours of Sunday, a man presumed to be Zambounis is seen getting into an armoured BMW parked outside a petrol station which he owned in the Neos Kosmos area of Athens.

Another vehicle then pulls up behind the BMW. Police later established that it was a Lexus with fake licence plates stolen in Italy months ago.

Two men jump out. One, clad in black and sporting a balaclava, approaches the BMW and fires an AK-47 assault rifle at the driver’s window at close range, pausing only to reload.

The gunman then pulls a handgun out of his jacket, opens the car door and shoots the occupant once more, while a second man fires several Kalashnikov rounds into the vehicle from the other side. Both then drive off in the Lexus.

The burnt-out getaway car was later found by police on the outskirts of Athens.

The viciousness of the killing has generated considerable attention in Greece – not least because it was captured on CCTV and shown on Greek TV soon afterwards. Two police officers were arrested the next day for breaching official confidentiality and leaking the footage to the media.

Greek reports are rife with speculation over the motives for Zambounis’s murder.

One theory is that it was ordered in retaliation for the June 2023 killing of mafia rival Vassilis Roubetis. Another theory pins the killing on ongoing tensions between domestic smugglers of tobacco products and foreign mobsters who import cheap cigarettes from Ukraine.

Local media also reported that a Kalashnikov rifle was found in the boot of Zambounis’s car, and that he had a pistol in his belt holster.

He is known to have survived a 2018 murder attempt, when his would-be killer attempted to fire into Zambounis’s car but his weapon malfunctioned.

According to Greek daily Kathimerini, more than 20 contract killings have been committed since 2017 in Greece among gangs involved in extortion and other criminal activities.


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