Bosnian Police Arrest Suspected Hitmen from the Kavač Clan

Published: 19 September 2023

Sarajevo at NightBosnia and Herzegovina's capital Sarajevo, where the police arrested two suspects believed to be hitmen of the notorious Montenegrin Kavač mafia clan. (Photo: Gabriel Hess, Flickr, License)

By Zdravko Ljubas

Police in Bosnia and Herzegovina announced they have apprehended two Serbian nationals suspected of being hitmen for a notorious Montenegrin mafia clan.

Authorities identified the two men only by their initials, D.D. and D.J., and said that they had forged Bosnian IDs with them.

Working in collaboration with the country's Intelligence-Security Agency (OSA), the police located the suspects on Sunday in a luxurious skyscraper in downtown Sarajevo, where they had rented several flats. Officers surrounded the building for several hours before detaining the two individuals and turning them over to the Sarajevo Canton Prosecutor.

According to media reports, Bosnian authorities acted on warrants from Serbia and Greece.

Media outlets also identified the suspects as Darko Dulović and Dušan Jovanović, members of the Montenegrin Kavač clan.

The Sarajevo daily Dnevni Avaz speculated that Jovanović and Dulović could be linked to the criminal gang of Veljko Belivuk, known as Velja Nevolja (Velja the Trouble), a high-ranking member of the Kavač clan in Belgrade, as well as to the criminal group of Darko Šarić, a Serbian drug lord.

The newspaper quoted the testimony of Bojan Horvatin, a witness in the Belivuk trial, who alleged that Dušan Jovanović was among the individuals responsible for the murders of Alan Kožar and Damir Hadžić, members of the rival Škaljari clan, in Greece in July 2020.

Belivuk was arrested in February 2021, along with 16 other members of his criminal gang. Two months later, Serbian police raided a residence held by his gang in Belgrade’s Ratopek suburb, discovering an industrial meat grinder reportedly used to process the remains of the gang’s victims.

The Kavač and Škaljari clans are two of the most powerful criminal organizations in the Balkans, with operations spanning the entire region, involving drug trafficking and rivalry.

Only a few days after Belivuk’s arrest in 2021, Bosnian police captured three men, all claiming to be members of the Škaljari clan, who were reportedly plotting to murder the chief of the rival Kavač clan, Radoje Zvicer, and his wife Tamara, while they were vacationing at Bosnia’s Jahorina ski resort.

The Montenegrin gangs, the Kavač and Škaljari clans, both originating from the Adriatic seaside town of Kotor, used to smuggle cocaine from South America into Europe together but split after a deal went bad in 2014.

The ensuing conflict has fractured the criminal underground in Serbia and Montenegro, prompting other criminal organizations, as well as some police and politicians, to take sides.

The conflict has claimed the lives of dozens of people in the countries of the former Yugoslavia and beyond as the gangs vie for control of the routes used to smuggle cocaine from South America to satisfy Europe’s multi-billion-euro drug habit.