Montenegro Police Arrest Kavač Clan Boss, Slobodan Kašćelan

Published: 23 April 2021

Kašćelan ArrestMontenegro police arrest Kavač clan leader, Slobodan Kašćelan. (Photo/Screenshot: Montenegro Police Directorate, Twitter)

By Zdravko Ljubas

Montenegrin police said they have arrested five suspected members of a criminal group involved in usury, bribery, extortion and drug trafficking. The operation took place in the coastal city of Kotor, the home of two of the Balkans most dangerous mafia clans.

Montenegro’s Special Prosecutor’s Office (SPD) did not respond to multiple OCCRP requests for details about the suspects but media in the region reported that among them was the leader of the Kavač mafia clan, Slobodan Kašćelan, two of his close associates in Kotor, and another two in the town of Pljevlja.

However, Kašćelan’s lawyer, Novica Kašćelan, confirmed to OCCRP’s Serbian partner KRIK that Kašćelan was questioned by prosecutors in Podgorica. He also said that the case has been marked as confidential.

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.

Slobodan Kašćelan, 58, is the oldest of the four leaders of the two clans, OCCRP wrote last year in its investigation “Gangsters and Hooligans: Key Players in the Balkan Cocaine Wars,” describing his biography as “a litany of violence.”

In May 2017, Montenegrin prosecutors indicted Kašćelan for “organizing” a criminal gang. Prosecutors also indicted 14 Kavač members, who they said were involved in drug trafficking, money laundering, extortion, and usury. Their trial is ongoing.

Kašćelan was arrested in Prague in 2018 and extradited to Montenegro, where he was not jailed, but given probation after pledging 500,000 euros worth of property as bail.

After this week’s arrest, Montenegro’s Deputy Prime Minister, Dritan Abazović, congratulated the Montenegrin police, especially their Sector for Organized Crime and the Special Prosecutor’s Office for the “biggest success in fighting organized crime in the last decade.”

“The mafia will no longer rule Montenegro,” he wrote on Twitter.