Brazilian and Serbian Drug Lords Arrested in Brazil

Authorities arrested 16 suspects during last week's multinational operation that targeted a Balkan-linked organized crime ring trafficking cocaine between Brazil and Europe, according to the European Union law enforcement agency Europol.

Balkan Cartel Brazil EuropolBalkan Cartel drug lords caught in Brazil in a operation gathering law enforcement from 11 countries. (Photo: Europol, License)The list of suspects includes a Serbian national residing in Brazil who is suspected of being the gang's boss and has been "one of the most important targets within Europol's Operational Taskforce (OTF) Balkan Cartel due to his role in organizing numerous drug shipments between continents."

Some of the apprehended suspects had links to the 'Primeiro Comando da Capital,' the largest Brazilian criminal organization, the agency said.

While Europol did not reveal the names of those arrested, the Serbian news outlet Novosti identified the suspected gang's boss as Aleksandar Nešić, the son of the Serbian narco boss Goran Nešić, also known as Ciga (Gypsy). Goran Nešić was arrested in Brazil in May 2011 and was extradited to Serbia in 2018 to serve an 8-year jail term for smuggling 24.5 kilos of heroin from Bulgaria.

Goran "Gypsy" Nešić was reputedly linked to Group America, one of the most pervasive, violent, and powerful criminal organizations, with origins in Serbia and New York City, which has shipped cocaine from South America to Europe in recent decades.

Aleksandar Nešić reportedly inherited his father's "business," which included coordination with the Primeiro Comando da Capital gang to ship cocaine to Europe, where it would be taken over by the Italian 'Ndrangheta mafia and forwarded further for eventual distribution.

Both the father and son were allegedly recruited by Serbian cocaine king Darko Šarić, who was jailed in April 2022 but is said to still control the cartel from behind bars.

The gang in Brazil was apprehended as a result of a 1.5-year-long Europol-coordinated investigation that brought together law enforcement authorities from 11 countries to collect intelligence and coordinate operational activities.

Europol stated that Brazilian investigators were able to connect the Balkan Cartel to the seizures of 5.7 tonnes of cocaine aboard a fishing vessel in Cape Verde in April 2022 and 1.3 tonnes of cocaine aboard a fishing vessel in Fortaleza, Brazil, in August of the same year.

"This series of arrests in Brazil marks a significant victory in the fight against Western Balkan criminal groups operating around the globe," Europol said. It added that the material acquired during the raids would now be analyzed to discover fresh investigation leads that may be pursued further by the OTF.