In November 2018, a major police operation involving Greek, US and Ecuatorian authorities had made headlines for dismantling an international drug smuggling ring.

The group was said to be using sailing yachts in different parts of the world for a transfer of cocaine worth $11 million from Ecuador to Australia.

Among those arrested by Hellenic police was Greek businessman Apostolis (Tolis) Leousis who has now been released from jail, following a court decision finding him non-guilty for charges related to operating a criminal organisation and drug trafficking of large quantities, offences punishable with life-prison sentencing.

Mr Leousis had maintained his innocence, claiming that he had travelled to Ecuador with one of the accused to visit a cocoa plantation for securing a business deal.

ALSO READ: Greek who spent more than 56 years in Australia is caught in detention limbo

He said that he had retracted from the deal when he suspected the involvement of illegal activities.

Nine people had been arrested in total in the joint international operation, six in Ecuador and three in Greece, after authorities in the Latin American country confiscated 300kg of cocaine in a yacht.

The other two arrested in Greece except Mr Leousis, were reportedly a car dealer in his 60s and one Albanian national in his 40s who have been found guilty for the initial charges.

According to the court decision, Mr Leousis had no links to a criminal organisation nor knowledge of the drug transfer.

However the court found that his trip to Ecuador assisted – though without his knowledge – to the drug smuggling and was given a 5-year suspended sentence meaning he could walk free.