Six Arrested in Croatia for Falsifying Passports for Gangsters

Published: 26 March 2012


Six Croatian citizens and one Serbian national were arrested Friday for falsifying Croatian passports thought to have been used by high-profile criminals.

The seven individuals are charged with abuse of power, falsification of documents, and organizing to commit a crime, Zeljka Pokupec, the spokeswoman of the Croatian Bureau for Combating Corruption and Organized Crime (USKOK) told the press.

Between 2006 and the end of 2010, the group made a profit of approximately US$559,675 through the illegal sale of passports. The authorities seized 53 falsified passports, and believe that at least as many are already in use.

The Croatian police told Al Jazeera that a falsified Croatian passport costs on average €10,000 (US$13,328). 

According to prosecutors, a person seeking a forged Croatian passport would pay half the amount to the group’s organizer. With the help of two corrupt police officers from Osijek, in north-east Croatia, and a police clerk from Zagreb, the organizer would identify citizens who had not yet applied for a passport.

 The group then used forged proxy statements to obtain birth certificates and proof of citizenship certificates in the names of the victims. The documents were used to obtain passports from Croatian consulates in Bosnia and Herzegovina, substituting a photograph of the “client,” rather than the real person who’s identity had been stolen.

The defendants also forged Bosnian personal identifications. With these, the group was able to obtain passports from Croatian consulates in Bosnia without their clients ever needing to show up. Upon receipt of the falsified passports, the clients would pay the rest of the money.

Vitomir Bijelic, Chief of Criminal Police, explained at a press conference Saturday how all the personal documents, including the passports themselves are real documents, but they were obtained illegally. He added that the group’s clients were mostly criminals.

Several high-profile Balkan crime figures were arrested so far with fake Croatian passports in their possession. Among them are Sretko “The Beast” Kalinić, Sinisa Petric, Vladimir “The Fool” Milisavljević, and his boss Luka “The Baker” Bojovic.

The Croatian passports gave the criminals easy access to the European Union, enabling them to run an international organized crime operation.