Organized crime in Greece generates a little under 3.6 billion euros per year, with contraband products playing a major part, according to a European Commission study, published in 15 March, which estimates that the main illicit markets in the European Union generate around 110 billion euro each year, corresponding to approximately 1% of the EU GDP. While in Europe the biggest part of illicit trade is illegal narcotics, in Greece smuggling and counterfeit products make the bulk of illicit trade.
Cigarette smuggling in Greece is worth 455 million euros per year. Greece has the highest proportion of smokers of any developed country – tobacco smuggling mushroomed since the economy sank into crisis. Bootleg or smuggled products are worth a little under 1.5 billion euros. But the biggest profits for organised crime come from counterfeit products, with an estimated value of 1.5 billion euros.
Drug trafficking in Greece brings organized crime much less in revenues: 54 million euros per year in heroin sales, 35 million euros in ecstasy sales, 28 million euros from cannabis and 16 million euros from cocaine. Despite the fact that Greece is a central transit point, illegal narcotics sales are low in proportion.
Corruption and a lack of resources had caused “major failings in the Greek Customs system” with few major seizures or investigations into smuggling rings.
The overall figures on illicit revenues may be very conservative since some illicit markets, such as human trafficking, extortion, illegal gambling and some types of fraud lack estimates for most of the 28 European Union member states.