By Vasilis Lambropoulos
Greek Police have rooted out one of the biggest rings that receive stolen goods and engage in the contraband gold trade, which is linked to the Roma Mafia and gangs of robbers and burglars.
The ring gathered and sold 400,000 euros worth of gold annually. In the police raids that led to the arrests, 37 kilos of gold and 515 kilos of silver were seized.
Over 80 individuals have been arrested, including at least one policeman and a boxer from the former Soviet Union.
The leaders of the ring are believed to be a Turkish national, an Arab, and 51-year-old Dimitrios-Rihardos (Greek for Richard) Mylonas (photo), who owns 44 pawn shops around the country., which thrived during the crisis as Greece’s former middle class sold off jewelry and valuables in order to survive and meet the obligations of over-taxation.
Mylonas, who became notorious and known around Greece as Rihardos, the name of his business which he advertised heavily on Greek television, claimed that he had branches in Portugal and Spain as well. The articles were bought at dirt cheap prices from the desperate sellers.
Mylonas had been arrested in 2014 when police from the economic crimes unit found violations to the tune of 70,000 euros in the registry in which he listed the purchase of items which were pawned. At the time he said these were groundless claims, and an ensuing investigation produced no results.
Greek police had probed the possibility that the pawn shop ring was melting gold jewelry to make gold bars that were illegally exported by the ring via Istanbul to Germany and other countries, to be sold in gold markets.
The gold objects were smelted in Eastern Attica and transported to Istanbul, often by Greece’s KTEL bus line, through the contacts of the Turkish and Arab member of the ring.
Gold was also found at the Saronis home of Mylonas, who reportedly had of late begun buying yachts and luxury automobiles.
In the spring of 2013, another large ring was rooted out. It was sending gold to Germany through a bogus company on Athens’ Ermou Street, run by a businessman from Crete, who died some months ago in an automobile accident in Canada.
The current investigation was conducted by security police in Marousi. Over 280 policemen participated in preparations for the bust over the last days. In the process, they seized 600,000 euros in cash, 120 kilos of silver, gold bars, valuables, and over 60 luxury automobiles.