Europe Cracks Down on Balkan Cocaine Trafficking Group

Published: 02 March 2016


By Igor Spaic

Thirteen suspected members of a Balkan cocaine trafficking group were arrested Tuesday by Croatian and European police, according to a news release from Europol.

The police operation, codenamed "Danube", is the result of several months of investigation by authorities in Croatia, Austria, Germany, the Netherlands and Europol.

Investigators located a warehouse in the Netherlands where, they say, two Croatian nationals  residing in the country stashed large amounts of cocaine for distribution to buyers in Austria, Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Authorities suspect that the group sold about 34 kilograms of cocaine on 12 occasions  throughout the past year, 7.7 kilograms of which was seized in six separate police operations in Croatia, Austria, Germany and the Netherlands. Authorities arrested six Croatian, five Austrian and two Serbian nationals they say belong to the group.

Croatian police estimate the street value of the cocaine sold at about € 1.36 million (US$ 1.47 million). They also say they seized an undisclosed amount of money and business documents linked to possible money laundering.

Europol says the source of the cocaine was South America.

Balkan organized crime groups have a history of cooperating with South American cocaine cartels. Darko Saric, the Balkan "King of Cocaine", was sentenced to 20 years in prison in 2015 in Serbia for organizing the smuggling of large amounts of cocaine from South America to European countries. The case is under appeal.