Serbian Authorities Press Charges Against Balkan Cartel
The Serbian Public Prosecutor for Organized Crime charged 20 people described as leaders and members of the so-called Balkan cartel, suspected of trafficking tons of cocaine, the KRIK news outlet, OCCRP’s Serbian partner, reported earlier this week.
The list of accused includes Zoran Jakšić, a leading member of Group America, a criminal clan known for smuggling tons of cocaine around the world, but also for dismembering enemies with chainsaws, assassinating senior government officials, and cooperating with intelligence agencies.
Jakšić was captured in Peru and sentenced to serve 25 years in prison there in February 2021.
According to the prosecution, the criminal group is suspected of engaging in the international smuggling of about seven tons of cocaine from December 2019 to August 2020.
The cocaine was confiscated in three operations: 4.5 tons were seized onboard the ship “Ares” in February 2020; another 1.2 tons were discovered a few months later, in June, in Belgium; and another 742 kilos were found in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, in August of the same year.
KRIK reported that part of the gang, primarily from the southern Serbian city of Niš, was additionally charged with illegally selling firearms, ammunition, and explosive devices.
According to KRIK, Serbian officials have blocked the suspects’ possessions, including all bank accounts and safes, as well as all movable and immovable property, such as apartments, houses, and vehicles, as well as more than three million euros, costly watches, and jewelry.