A disturbing report has labelled Greece the "land of the Kalashnikov" noting there are more than 600,000 Kalashnikovs in the hands of criminals in the country.
The report in To Vima describes how armed criminal gangs far out match police in fire power as it notes that in other countries it is the army that faces Kalashinikovs, rather than police and civilians. The weapons are smuggled in through various routes, often crossing into Greece over the Albanian border where they are oftentimes hidden amongst bulls and cows, making it difficult for police to search.
Post-Hoxha Albania was famed for its gun-rule where "all the males wave their AKs around while blustering and shouting at each other" in its descent from "semi-democracy with a semi-rule of law to thuggery and rule of the gun."
Now the Kalashinikovs are coming into Greece from other Balkan states too, including Bulgaria and Serbia, but To Vima notes they cost less if they come over the Albanian border. Athens News reported that a joint U.S.- Greek operation busted an arms-smuggling operation this weekend, with weapons being shipped from Naples to Crete. Additionally there are reports of Ukrainian ships smuggling weapons to Crete.
According to To Vima "In the last two years police have dismantled more than 40 gangs with Kalashnikovs and estimated that there are about 15-20 other armed gangs that continue to rob banks, shops and homes, spreading panic and shooting at people indiscriminately. And that number is growing dramatically each day. Every year it is estimated that some 7,000 committed robberies" occur.