The US Arrests Mileta Miljanić, the Alleged Leader of ‘Group America’
U.S. authorities have arrested the alleged leader of a criminal clan known as Group America, believed to have smuggled tons of cocaine across the world. The gang is known for dismembering enemies with chainsaws, assassinating senior government officials and cooperating with intelligence agencies.
The FBI arrested Mileta Miljanić in his home in New York during a search of his apartment on February 23, when officers found a gun in the drawer of his nightstand, according to documents obtained by OCCRP and its Serbian partner KRIK on Friday. Miljanić has a criminal history.
It is believed that the operation was part of a wider investigation.
Miljanić’s name appeared in the case of James Cahill, a labor leader who was arrested in October on bribery charges. Cahill had connections in the underworld, including with the famous Gambino Family, the Westies, an Irish gang that once operated in Manhattan, and Miljanić’s Group America.
Only two days after Miljanić’s arrest, a court in Lima sentenced his right-hand man Zoran Jakšić, a Serbian national and leading member of Group America, to 25 years in prison for the second time.
Peruvian authorities originally sentenced Jakšić after he was apprehended by National Police in 2016 while attempting to smuggle 800 kilograms of cocaine out of the country. Media reports say that his initial conviction was overruled by an appeals court and he was granted a retrial.
Miljanić has long been known as one of the most powerful organized crime figures in the Balkans, while his Group America is believed to have smuggled tons of cocaine across the world, trading on ties with intelligence agencies.
OCCRP, KRIK and Czech news outlet Investigace.cz followed the decades-old criminal organization with roots in New York and the Balkans for years. The gang operates in dozens of countries and is believed to have been supplying Europe with tons of cocaine from South America.
Group America and Miljanić are also believed to maintain close ties to Serbian intelligence and political circles
Miljanić appeared in a 2016 group photo with Ivica Dačić, current speaker of the Serbian National Assembly, who visited New York as Serbia’s then Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister.
Dačić denied knowing the suspected crime boss standing behind him in the photo and explained later that Miljanić was introduced to him as a major donor of the Serbian Orthodox Church in the U.S.