Argentine/Balkan Drug Trafficking Ring Dismantled

Published: 05 August 2013


 After a four-year investigation, officials in Argentina have arrested the final suspect in an international drug trafficking ring that moved cocaine from Argentina to the Balkans, InSight Crime reports. 

Since the beginning of the investigation, at least 14 people have been arrested. The most recent was Carlos Gallego of Argentina. According to La Nacion Gallego was in charge of logistics for the operation. Authorities found 480 kilos of cocaine stored in an underground hideout below an apartment Gallego rented in Buenos Aires. 

Operation “Balkan Warrior” began in 2009 after officials in Uruguay, acting on intelligence provided by the US Drug Enforcement Agency and Serbian anti-drug officials, discovered two tons of cocaine on a yacht near Montevideo. Darko Šarić, a Serbian kingpin, was identified by Serbian authorities to be the head of the organization behind the shipment.

A 2012 OCCRP report demonstrated that Šarić did in fact head a drug trafficking organization responsible for bringing several tons of cocaine into Europe from South America. Šarić’s route ran from Colombia to Argentina to Uruguay, and then onward to the Balkans. From Eastern Europe it was moved to Western Europe, where demand for cocaine is high.

Serbian officials say Šarić’s organization made up to 1 billion euros (about US $1.24 billion) annually, which he used to set up a number of companies.

Two people have been accused of working for the organization in Argentina, one Croatian was sentenced to 17 years in Uruguay and 10 Serbians have been sentenced to an average of 10 years.

Šarić is still officially being sought.  There is no evidence that the group has been dismantled and police sources say trafficking continues under new leaders.