The brazen execution of a prominent Greek mobster by unknown gunmen Sunday morning in central Athens led to the arrests of two police officers Monday for leaking CCTV footage of the murder to the media.
The two assassins, who ambushed Vangelis Zambounis outside a gasoline station, remain at large, leaving Greece reeling after the latest of more than 20 killings in the past five years – mainly in the capital – linked to gang rivalries.
Zambounis, 44, was a prominent figure in the Greek criminal underworld. It is believed he dominated fuel and tobacco smuggling, protection rackets and local narcotic distribution as well as being suspected to be behind a series of murders of rival gangsters.
The two police officers were arrested after leaking CCTV footage of the hit, as well as photos of the dead Zambounis. The video shows Zambounis entering his armored BMW at about 2am Sunday, about ten seconds before a second vehicle carrying gunmen arrives at the scene.
A hooded, masked attacker can be seen emptying a 30 round clip from an AK-47 style assault rifle into the driver-side window of the SUV, reloading, and firing a second clip to defeat the vehicle’s armor. The killer then opened the BMW’s shattered door and shot Zambounis several times in the head. Off camera, a second gunman was firing another AK-47 into the vehicle from the other side of the car.
Police said at least 96 shell casings were found at the scene. The assassin’s car, a Lexus SUV reported stolen from Italy six months ago, was later found burning near the scene, where police also recovered two AK-47s and a pistol likely used in the killing. A third AK-47 and a pistol were recovered, unfired, from Zambounis’ vehicle by police.
Zambounis reputation for being involved in mafia feuds extends to being a suspect in last June’s assassination of a major mafia rival, Vassilis Roubetis and his brother-in-law, who were killed in a vehicle by two men firing AK-47 style assault rifles. Police believe Roubetis’ assassination was in response to the April 2022 murder of yet another prominent Greek mafia boss, Yiannis Skaftouros, killed outside his holiday home in Skourta, Greece by two assassins firing AK-47 style assault rifles.
Zambounis himself had previously survived a 2018 assassination attempt when the would-be attacker’s AK-47 style assault rifle jammed.
Greek and Albanian media have both reported that a contract on Zambounis’ life had been circulating within criminal circles for some time.
But in the Byzantine world of Greek organized crime, there’s a second theory being considered by police and Zambounis’ colleagues.