U.S. Sanctions Narco Boss from Bosnia and Herzegovina

Published: 20 March 2023

Edin-Gacanin-Dubai-foto-dr-mrezeU.S. authorities sanction Edin Gačanin (R), boss of Tito and Dino narco cartel. (Photo: KRIK)

By Zdravko Ljubas

The United States designated a citizen of Bosnia and Herzegovina who has been detained last year in Dubai as the alleged leader of a drug cartel and one of the key players in the global cocaine trade.

Edin “Tito” Gačanin, the leader of the Tito and Dino Cartel, also known as a “European Escobar,” has been labeled by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) as one of the world’s top 50 drug dealers, according to the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).

Gačanin’s gang is believed to be involved in massive cocaine shipments from South America to Europe worth billions of dollars. He is thought to have been recruiting members from Bosnia and the region, many of them actually being the Sarajevo neighbors of the Gačanin family.

The gang also registered a number of companies in the Netherlands, Slovenia, Spain and Bosnia and Herzegovina, to be used in laundering the drug proceeds.

“In addition to narcotics trafficking efforts across multiple countries, Gačanin’s cartel is involved in money laundering and is closely linked to the Kinahan Organized Crime Group, a Transnational Criminal Organization previously designated by OFAC… for its role as a significant transnational criminal organization,” read the statement.

Sanctions against Gačanin, according to OFAC, were coordinated closely with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation (Europol), and the governments of The Netherlands, France, and Belgium.

Apart from the alleged drug lord, OFAC also designated the recently removed chief of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Intelligence Security Agency (OSA), Osman Mehmedagić, aka Osmica, alleging that he “misused a state-owned telecommunications company for the benefit of the Party of Democratic Action (SDA),” the largest Bosniak political party.

Mehmedagić was sanctioned for “being complicit in, or having directly or indirectly engaged in, corruption related to the Western Balkans, including corruption by, on behalf of, or otherwise related to a government in the Western Balkans, or a current or former government official at any level of government in the Western Balkans, such as the misappropriation of public assets, expropriation of private assets for personal gain or political purposes, or bribery.”

Besides spying on various politicians in favor of SDA, the U.S. authorities claimed that he “has also collaborated with criminal networks to enrich himself and his political party.”

Bosnian investigative journalist Slobodan Vasković goes even further, linking Mehmedagić directly with Gačanin.

As he wrote on his blogspot, it is not a coincidence that both Mehmedagić and Gačanin ended up together at the so-called U.S. black list.

Besides Gačanin and Mehmedagić, the U.S. authorities have also designated Dragan Stanković, Director of the Administration for Geodetic and Property Affairs (RUGIP) of one of two Bosnia and Herzegovina’ semi-autonomous regions, Republika Srpska.

Stanković headed the agency which last year brokered a law on Republika Srpska’s immovable property, aimed at usurpation of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s owned land in favor of the Srpska region, directly challenging the country’s constitutional order and undermining the U.S. brokered Dayton Peace Agreement that stopped the country’s 1992-1995 war.

As a result of the U.S. authorities sanctions, among others, “all property and interests in property of the designated persons that are in the U.S. or in the possession or control of U.S. persons are blocked and must be reported to OFAC.”

“The U.S. will continue to target those who perpetuate corruption and undermine the postwar agreements and institutions established as part of the hard-won Dayton Peace Agreement,” Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian E. Nelson concluded.