Police following leads in Mafia hit

Tue, 16 Jan 2024 8:31 GMT
Investigation of underworld leader murder focusing on Russian mob, tobacco racket, rivals.
Police following leads in Mafia hit

The police investigation into Sunday’s Mafia-style execution of 44-year-old Vangelis Zambounis, a prominent underworld figure, in the Neos Kosmos suburb of Athens is reportedly focusing on the release of a mobster from prison 10 days ago, the rumored reversal of his business relations in recent months and his possible involvement in the war between Russian-speaking smugglers.

Police are also focusing their attention on the similarities with the murders of Giorgos Mitsos and Mario Diamant, in November 2021. This evidence feeds scenarios even for the existence of an imported group of hired killers who have recently executed more than one death contract. Zambounis was considered in recent years as perhaps the most powerful figure of the Greek underworld, a major player in a multi-million-euro racket involving tobacco and fuel smuggling, protection in nightclubs etc.

In fact, after the cold-blooded execution in June in Korydallos of Vassilis Roubetis, who was considered his number one rival, Zambounis looked like the absolute master of the game. Kathimerini has learned that after the murder of Roubetis security officials had assessed in their report to a competent official of the Ministry of Citizen Protection that the 44-year-old was not in danger of a retaliation for that execution. 

One of the scenarios currently being considered by the authorities is that the execution of Zambounis came as a continuation of the previous murder of Roubetis. In other words, an act of revenge by the remaining members of his group. Other police sources, however, believe that after the murder of Roubetis, the remaining members of his group did not have the potential to execute a contract of death on their own. 

Instead, they turned their attention to the recent release of an underworld heavyweight who had been jailed as the leader of a group of extortionists who collected protection money from dozens of shops in Attica.

Another theory is that Zambounis had been involved in a war between domestic smugglers of tobacco products and expats from Ukraine with alleged connections to members of the Russian-speaking Mafia, code-named Vor V Zakone. In addition, traces of involvement of expats from the former Soviet Union have also emerged in the case of another Greek Mafia strongman who was murdered in the spring of 2022. 


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