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European Police cracks down on Balkan drug cartel

European Countries, Europol, Croatia, Italy, Montenegro, Netherlands, Portugal, Serbia, Slovenia, Spain, EU, National Police, Polizia di Stato, Ravnateljstvo policije, Policijski nacionalni ured za suzbijanje korupcije i organiziranog kriminaliteta, Uprava policije, Politie, Policia Judiciária, Uprava kriminalisticke policije, Judicial Police, Criminal Investigations Directorate, Guardia Civil, Balkan, Balkan drug cartel

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European Police cracks down on Balkan drug cartel

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Security forces from eight European countries arrested 12 suspected members of a Balkan drug cartel accused of bringing tons of cocaine from South America into Europe.

In the early hours of July 27, 2022, authorities raided 37 sites in four countries, out of which 33 in Montenegro where eight suspects were arrested and luxury watches, money, documents, weapons and a speedboat were seized.

According to a press release from Europol, this “cross-border operation involving law enforcement authorities from Croatia, Italy, Montenegro, the Netherlands, Portugal, Serbia, Slovenia and Spain, and supported by Europol, led to the dismantling of a criminal organization trafficking cocaine from South America to the EU and beyond”.

The Europol press release said:

A cross-border operation involving law enforcement authorities from Croatia, Italy, Montenegro, the Netherlands, Portugal, Serbia, Slovenia and Spain, and supported by Europol, led to the dismantling of a criminal organization trafficking cocaine from South America to the EU and beyond.

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The investigation into this criminal network lasted several years, and involved a number of EU Member States and third-party countries from the Western Balkan region. The drug trafficking network was mainly composed of Montenegrin nationals, but also involved citizens from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Italy and Serbia. Between 2019 and 2020, law enforcement authorities seized more than six tons of cocaine in Aruba (Dutch Antilles), Cote d’Ivoire, Portugal and Spain. The investigations following the seizure in Portugal uncovered possible links between this criminal network and the mafia-style organization ’Ndrangheta. This same seizure led to the identification of 17 new suspects, 13 of whom were Montenegrin nationals. During the course of the investigation, 29 suspects were prosecuted in Croatia, Italy, Montenegro, the Netherlands, Serbia, Slovenia and Portugal.

On the action day, 27 July 2022, officers across Europe raided 37 locations (1 in Croatia, 2 in Italy, 33 in Montenegro and 1 in Serbia), arrested 12 suspects (1 in Croatia, 1 in Italy, 8 in Montenegro and 2 in Serbia) and seized expensive watches, bank cards, documents, ammunition and weapons, a vehicle and a speedboat and cash.

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Europol facilitated the exchange of information and provided continuous analytical support to the investigation. Europol also contributed to the overall case coordination among various agencies in the EU and beyond.

Participating law enforcement authorities:

Italy – National Police (Polizia di Stato)
Croatia – National Police (Ravnateljstvo policije, Policijski nacionalni ured za suzbijanje korupcije i organiziranog kriminaliteta)
Montenegro – National Police (Uprava policije)
Netherlands – National Police (Politie)
Portugal – Judicial Police  (Policia Judiciária)
Serbia – Criminal Investigations Directorate (Uprava kriminalisticke policije)
Slovenia – National judicial police (Uprava kriminalisticne policije)
Spain – Civil Guard (Guardia Civil)

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Headquartered in The Hague, the Netherlands, Europol supports the 27 EU Member States in their fight against terrorism, cybercrime and other serious and organized forms of crime. We also work with many non-EU partner states and international organizations. From its various threat assessments to its intelligence-gathering and operational activities, Europol has the tools and resources it needs to do its part in making Europe safer.

This latest crackdown on the Balkan drug cartel follows Europol’s last year move by European authorities who helped file criminal reports against more than 60 suspects belonging to the cartel which was flooding the continent with cocaine.

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Contents published under this byline are those created by the news team of BLiTZ

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