Panagiotis Vlastos, 41, is a convicted murderer and racketeer. In March 2012 he was convicted of masterminding the 2009 kidnapping of shipping tycoon Pericles Panagopolous, along with Yiannis Skaftouros. Panagopolous was released by his kidnappers after the payment of a 30-million euro ransom. Four others were convicted of carrying out the kidnapping.
In December 2010, he staged a failed prison break attempt in coordination with terrorist group Conspiracy of the Cells of Fire, taking visitors and guards hostage at Korydallos Prison in an escape attempt. They released their hostages unharmed after negotiations with police.
Vlastos also staged prison escape attempts in 2006 and 2009 by helicopter with the help of Vassilis Paleokostas and Alket Rizaj. He has been involved in criminal activities since very young and came to the public’s attention in the 1990s when his brother was killed in a mafia turf war during a shoot-out with police. Vlastos’ crime syndicate is suspected of involvement in a number of other cases, including:
- The murder of businessman George Gousios on 12 September 2008
- Attempted murder of an Arta businessman by planting a large bomb in his residence, though this attack was thwarted by police
- Plotting the murder of the governor of the Trikala prison and a prison social worker, where Vlastos was an inmate
- Plotting the murder of a nightclub owner, whom police smuggled out of the country for protection
- Plotting the murder of a Malandrinos prison inmate and arch rival of Vlastos en route to court with a car bomb and a drive-by shooting (the inmate’s court transport date was moved back, however, and the plan was thus thwarted
- Plotting to murder three members of the rival Corinth criminal gang