Security


Serbia: Drug busts will have 'little impact' on mafia




Belgrade, 27 Nov. (AKI) - While Serbian authorities hailed the success of a massive drug bust in Argentina this week, experts questioned whether it would have any impact on the mafia's vast drug smuggling operations from South America to Europe. Argentinian police this week seized 492 kilogrammes of cocaine and detained several nationals from Serbia and Montenegro after a raid on a Buenos Aires home.

The raid followed the seizure of 2.2 tonnes of cocaine from Serbian nationals in Uruguay in October.

Argentinian authorities have issued warrants for Serbian and Montenegrin nationals, Nenad Novakovic, Drasko Vukovic, Boris Laban, Marko Pandrc and Igor Stjepovic, who are believed to have been in Latin America for several months.

Serbian crime and terrorism expert, Milovan Drecun, told Adnkronos International (AKI) the smuggling of cocaine and other drugs from South America and the Middle East through the Balkans to Europe was nothing new.

“What is new is that citizens from several Balkan countries, namely Serbia, Montenegro and Croatia, have popped up at the forefront as the main ring leaders,” Drecun said.

“In fact, they are just ‘couriers’ for the big bosses, who continue to operate from the shadows.

He argued that drug smuggling was organised by the Albanian mafia in Europe and the United States, where they had the money and long-established contacts with drug producers.

Marko Nicovic, former Belgrade police chief, said that the Serbian mafia had no money to get directly involved in such a big business, but he refused to rule out the involvement of Russian mafia in drug smuggling.

Nicovic told AKI that organised crime had penetrated all levels of the society and criminals were often given short term sentences, or set free for lack of evidence.

President Boris Tadic congratulated the police for their role in breaking the smuggling chain in cooperation with the United States Drug Enforcement Agency and South American agencies.

“This action has been carried out in cooperation with all our security agencies and I congratulate them on their great success which has strengthened the confidence of our citizens in state institutions and international credibility of our country,” Tadic said.

While Serbian police detained 600 people in October in connection with cocaine smuggling, Drecun noted that Serbia had no “long-term preventive state strategy for fighting organised crime”.

Aleksandar Fatic, director of the Centre for Security Studies in Belgrade, told AKI last week that Serbian organised crime was gaining a stronger foothold in the international drug trade by exploiting political corruption in the Balkans and offering heroin and cocaine at record low prices

Fatic said the Serbian mafia was using two major routes to import large quantities of cocaine from South America.

The first route ran from Uruguay and Argentina via South Africa to Northern Italy and Montenegro and a second route from Colombia via central Africa and Turkey to Montenegro.

He said Serbia was under strong pressure from the European Union to crack down on organised crime and drug smuggling because Europe is unable to cope with the “roots of crime and drug smuggling in Kosovo” which declared independence from Serbia last year.


 

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