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16 June, 2024
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Murders linked to firearms surge in Limassol and Nicosia

Stolen national guard weapons fuel Cyprus organized crime

Yiannis Ioannou

Yiannis Ioannou

The recent discovery of weapons in a cemetery in Oroklini serves as a stark reminder of the increasing presence of organized crime networks in Cyprus, particularly their access to military-style firearms, classified as illicit traded firearms.

Cyprus, with its unique history of military occupation and cross-border organized crime, has witnessed instances of firearm use, including attacks with portable anti-tank launchers in the 1980s and 2000s.

The recent seizure of heavy weaponry in Oroklini, including a G3 War rifle of Turkish origin, highlights concerns about the availability of such weapons, potentially stored for an extended period in military facilities.

A series of high-profile murders in Limassol and Nicosia in recent years, often involving firearms, has raised legitimate concerns about the ease with which organized crime actors can acquire weapons of war.

According to open sources and police reports, common weapons used by organized crime in Cyprus are often associated with those stolen from the National Guard's arsenal. These include pistols and various types of assault rifles, such as the G3 and Vz. 58.

Specific cases, like the Rhodotheos murder, suggest the use of specialized weaponry, such as sniper configurations, and ammunition linked to past thefts from Special Forces units.

The trafficking of weapons, including historic firearms, is facilitated by their dispersion since the pre-1974 period and the modernization of the Turkish Armed Forces in the occupied areas. Turkey's development of the small arms industry has also contributed to the availability of firearms on the illegal market.

Additionally, the targeted transfer of weapons within Cyprus or from abroad for contract killings underscores the involvement of organized crime networks with transnational reach in the region.

[This article was translated from its Greek original]

Cyprus  |  Larnaca  |  crime

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