Globalization doesn't just affect the legit economy, it opens up many exciting new possibilities for the discerning crimelord too. "The Greeks" ( they're not even Greek) are a multinational crime syndicate that seems to be based out of southeastern Europe and the Levant, and which includes members from the Ukraine, Russia, and Israel. Their primary criminal enterprise seems to be smuggling Afghan heroin into Europe and the United States, but they are also involved in the cocaine business and have connections to Colombian narcoterrorists. They also operate prostitution rings, which becomes the focus of the second season. It is to them that Frank Sobotka turns when he needs money for the redevelopment of the grain pier, smuggling contraband and stealing from other shipments, and it is their pure heroin that Proposition Joe peddles in East Baltimore. They escape justice, and are seen again dealing with Joe, Marlo, and finally, in the last episode, with Fat Face Rick and Slim Charles.
- Greater-Scope Villain: They import drugs and other things into the country. The crime lords of Baltimore and other cities might come and go, but the Greeks will remain.
- Outside-Context Problem: The Greek's empire is a serious and nebulous international crime syndicate very different from the petty kingdoms of the local drug gangs. Even the most competent police officers have to learn new tricks to deal with this threat.
- The Syndicate: It's a global crime organization involved in the drug trade and human trafficking, and too big for the BPD to handle.
- We Have Reserves: As an organisation that deals in human misery and desperation and operates out of poor countries, any loss of workers and supply lines is always temporary to them, as they can pretty easily be recouped. All in all, the death of the 14 prostitutes that kicks off the BPD's investigation is really just a minor inconvenience to them, and the BPD's efforts against them amount to barely even more than that. Sure, a few of their members are arrested and sentenced and a couple of their fronts are shut down in the process, but it barely takes them a week to get the drug trade up and running again, and a new prostitution ring follows not too long afterwards.
- Business. Always business.
Head of a smuggling operation running out of the Port of Baltimore, specializing in drugs, prostitutes, and stolen goods. Tends to hide in plain sight, sitting at the bar while his Number Two ostensibly takes care of business. He is the main supplier for Proposition Joe, and later, Marlo Stanfield. The port investigation almost manages to arrest him, but a tip from an agent within the Department of Homeland Security (which the Greek is an informant for) gives him the time needed to shut down operations and flee the country, along with Vondas. No relationship, as far as we know, to "The Greek's", the restaurant in season one, where Brandon Wright played pinball.
- Affably Evil: He is generally polite and soft-spoken and gives the impression of a kind, elderly gentleman — when he's not callously ordering his underlings to murder people.
- Big Bad: For season 2. Given his status as the supplier of the Baltimore kingpins and his return in season 4, arguably for the whole series as well.
- Cool Old Guy
- Cunning Linguist: Can speak English, Greek, Portuguese, Farsi and probably Turkish too. Who knows what other languages he might be able to speak.
- Devil in Plain Sight: Everyone who meets with Spiros wonders who his mysterious boss is. Few people ever find out that it's the quiet elderly gentleman who sits at the counter drinking coffee while Spiros does the talking.
- The Don
- Fauxreigner: Even though he's referred to as the Greek, by his own words he's not actually Greek. He speaks Greek with some of his henchmen, though, and the fact that he's expected to dislike Turks may indicate that he's an ethnic Greek from Cyprus.
- Karma Houdini: Thanks to a tip from his FBI connection, he and his Number Two manage to flee just before the police arrive to arrest them, and while the remaining members of the Baltimore arm of the organization are arrested or killed and his smuggling, drug-running, and prostitution activities are shut down temporarily, it all just amounts to a passing annoyance for him, and he's able to resume business as usual in season 4 and beyond. He is never brought to justice.
- Know When to Fold 'Em: He decides to make a pragmatic exit as soon as he learns he is under scrutiny, despite Spiros protesting that it would mean leaving behind a valuable drug shipment."Lambs go to the slaughter. A man learns to walk away."
- No One Sees the Boss: The Greek prefers it this way, he has everyone important enough meet Spiros while the Greek himself remains a mystery to everyone outside his organization.
- Nothing Personal: One of the connotations of his philosophy "Business, always business". Best exemplified in Season 5. He is somewhat fond of Prop. Joe, but that doesn't preclude The Greek to drop him as a partner in favor of Marlo.
- The Man Behind the Man: He prefers not to deal directly with the dock workers or drug dealers, who may not even know that he exists.
- Mistaken Nationality: In the season 2 finale, he says that even though everyone refers to him as "The Greek," he's not even Greek.
- Only Known by Their Nickname: Even Spiros only ever refers to him as "The Greek". His real name is never revealed.
- The Quiet One: Rarely talks to anyone other than Spiros, but is the one calling the shots for the organization.
- Reality Has No Subtitles: A lot of his dialogue is untranslated, and can't be easily inferred from the context or his tone.
- The Spook
- Villainous Friendship: He and Vondas seem genuinely close. He even fusses over Vondas' lack of appetite at one point when Vondas is worried, and when he sees Vondas taking a fatherly interest in Nick Sobotka, he fondly tells Vondas "You should have been a father, Spiros."
- You Are Too Late: He's just a step ahead of the police several times, thanks to a mole he has inside the FBI who also works on anti-terrorism. All hail The War on Terror.
- They have my name. But my name is not my name.
The Greek's soft-spoken right hand man who oversees his operations in Baltimore, which most notably includes acting as the wholesaler who supplies Prop Joe with drugs. He takes a liking to Nick Sobotka, facilitating the young man's descent into a life of crime.
- Affably Evil: He is generally polite and soft-spoken, and treats the Sobotkas quite nicely, almost as old friends. In the end, he persuades The Greek to persuade the Sobotkas to keep quiet rather than actually killing them (though at first he succeeds, the plan fails). Spiros is also saddened when they drop Proposition Joe as a business partner, knowing well that Marlo, the new one, would kill Joe.
- The Dragon: To The Greek.
- Evil Mentor: To Nick Sobotka, to whom he takes a liking, treating him almost as the son he doesn't have.
- Fauxreigner: Spiros has several passports from different countries, all in different names. In Baltimore he uses a Greek name. Since he speaks and texts in Greek, this may or may not be his actual nationality.Ziggy: So, uh, you must be The Greek.
Vondas: (long pause) Well, I'm Greek, anyway.
- Good Smoking, Evil Smoking: Evil, clearly; he rarely appears without a cigarette in his hand.
- I Have Many Names: As he says himself, "many names, many passports".
- Karma Houdini: Along with his boss, he escapes punishment entirely.
- Mouth of Sauron: The Greek does pretty much all of his talking through him, due to his policy of No One Sees the Boss.
- Number Two: To the Greek.
- Pragmatic Villainy: He prefers to avoid violence if he can, not out of moral conviction but because it tends to make a mess and draw attention from the police. When it becomes necessary, he is perfectly willing to cut a throat or two, as Frank Sobotka learns.
- Villainous Friendship: He and The Greek seem genuinely close.
- Did he have hands? Did he have a face? Yes? Then it wasn't us.
A Ukrainian (not Russian) who serves as a driver and enforcer for the Greek's organization. He's first seen waiting in a truck for the shipping container in which the dead girls are later found, and after committing several brutal crimes becomes a primary target of the police's investigation as season two goes on. When the combined police/FBI operation moves on the Greek's operation, he is arrested. He later agrees to inform on the Greek, but by this time his former boss has already escaped.
- The Brute: He's the most prominent muscle man for The Greek, trusted to handle all sorts of physical tasks, especially when it comes to dishing out violence.
- Husky Russkie: Ukrainian, but he certainly evokes the spirit of this trope.
- The Mafiya: It's not stated explicitly that he's a member, but with his brutality and penchant for cutting off the hands and faces of his victims he clearly fits the trope.
- Mother Russia Makes You Strong: He mentions that he spent four years in prison in the Ukraine, and that American prisons are nowhere near as harsh.
- Never Heard That One Before: "Boris. Why always Boris?"
The Greek's fence, also in charge of smuggling stolen goods. His retail shop and warehouses are the front, storage facility, and transit line for stolen goods. He works with Nick and Ziggy Sobotka on several deals but rips Ziggy off on the last one. After an altercation where he beats and verbally abuses Ziggy, Ziggy comes back with a gun and kills him, causing a major breakdown in the relationship between the Greek's organization and the Sobotkas.
- Dick Dastardly Stops to Cheat: Cheats Ziggy out of half of what they agreed upon for a deal regarding some stolen cars, for no apparent reason other than disliking him in general. This gets him killed.
- The Evil Genius: He's the man with the plan in the Greek's organization for moving stolen goods, smuggling, etc.
- For Want of a Nail: The docks investigation might have ended completely differently if he hadn't felt the need to rip Ziggy off and get into a fight about it.
- Moving the Goalposts: Which gets him killed when Ziggy doesn't like it and it turns into a physical confrontation.
- Rage Breaking Point: After Glekas calmly endures Ziggy getting in his face for a bit, Ziggy calls him a cunt. Glekas promptly begins beating down Ziggy and cursing him out in Greek.
- Rasputinian Death: Is still alive after a half dozen bullets to the back, then gets shot in the face to finish him off.
- Small Role, Big Impact: Has little screen time, but his death throws the Greek's organization into chaos and gives the cops the break they need to blow the case open.
- Smug Snake: Rips off Ziggy For the Evulz and ultimately dies from that genius move.
An Israel-born top lieutenant of the Greeks, in charge of drug distribution in Baltimore.
A sailor in the employ of the Greek, his job is to watch over and keep safe any girls being smuggled into the US as part of the Greek's prostitution ring. During the long ride across the ocean, he had the idea of making some money by having the girls sleep with members of the horny crew. When one of the girls refused and tried to fight, her would be client killed her, and in a panic at being implicated in her death, Sam killed the other girls by forcing them back into the container and closing off the air hole. He is tracked down by the Greeks and murdered for his part in all this.
- Asshole Victim: Not a tear was shed in universe or out when he was killed.
- Blatant Lies: He attempts to claim that it wasn't him that killed the girls, but when asked who did do it, all he can come up with is "Another man".
- Fat Bastard: He's overweight, willing to sell young girls into being Sex Slaves, and murder a whole bunch of girls to try to cover up his role in the death of one. Yeah, he qualifies.
- Nervous Wreck: He panics and goes to pieces when scared, as shown by his actions with the girls, his failure to come up with any kind of plausible lie for the Greeks, and his fearful behavior on board the Atlantic Light when he realizes the ship is staying in port at Philadelphia rather than leaving.
- Only Known By His Nickname: His name is never mentioned, and the script and credits only refer to him as Sam or Sailor Sam, which is probably not his real name, as the character is supposed to be a native Turk.
- Small Role, Big Impact: He's a minor criminal on screen for only part of one episode, but the second season and many events that followed it would have been very different without his involvement. Without him, the the girls don't die, McNulty probably never succeeds in getting off the boat, Daniels quits the police without ever being promoted, Carver, rather than being set straight by Colvin, remains in the South East under Valchek's command and never turns himself around, Prez isn't pushed into his physical confrontation with Valchek, the dock workers may have survived investigation without the infamy of the murdered girls bringing them extra attention, etc.
- Too Dumb to Live: Really, if the Greek is going to be upset over you pimping out his girls without permission and getting one girl killed, what do you think he's going to do if you kill another thirteen girls?
- You Have Failed Me: Sam's failures with the girls being smuggled into the country results in The Greek having Spiros cut Sam's throat.