Bosnian Police Arrest Suspected Montenegrin Mafia Members

Published: 11 February 2021

Arrests JahorinaMembers of the Montenegrin Škaljari mafia clan arrested in Bosnia. (Photo: MUP RS)

By Zdravko Ljubas

Police in Bosnia detained three men believed to be members of one of Montenegro’s two criminal clans known for drug smuggling and for their years-long bloody rivalry that has so far taken more than 170 lives on both sides.

Police said in a statement on Thursday that the three were suspected of “illegal production and trafficking of drugs and illicit production and trafficking of weapons or explosives,” and that they were arrested Wednesday evening near the ski resort Jahorina, some 30 kilometers east of Sarajevo.

Authorities only released the initials of the suspects and said they were Montenegrin nationals from the city of Cetinje, but local media identified them as Milan Kršić, one of the leaders of the Škaljari clan and two clan members, Filip Roganović and Boban Sjekloća.

Sarajevo daily newspaper Dnevni Avaz cited police sources claiming that the three were planning to kill the leader of the rival Kavač clan, Radoje Zvicer and his wife Tamara.

Tamara Zvicer, her three children and several friends were at Jahorina waiting for Radoje to join them for a vacation when Serbian intelligence allegedly informed Bosnian authorities of the arrival of the three Škaljari clan members and their assasination plans.

The Kavač and the Škaljari clans both hail from Kotor, on Montenegro’s picturesque Adriatic coast. They were once part of the same gang smuggling drugs from South America into Europe, but split in 2014 after a cocaine deal in Spain went bad, creating a violent rift that has deepened ever since — and pulled in other Serbian and Montenegrin crime groups.

In May, 2020, four internationally wanted contract killers, believed to be hired by the Škaljari, tried to assassinate Zvicer in Ukraine, where he is based. He was badly injured in the attack but not killed, probably thanks to his wife who shot back at the attackers and forced them to flee - a moment local security cameras recorded.

Both clans seem to be under increased scrutiny lately. Only last week, Serbia arrested 17 people suspected of being linked to Zvicer’s Kavač clan, accusing them of serious crimes, including kidnappings and murders. It is not clear whether that operation is in any way linked to the one in Bosnia.