Serbia's “Cocaine King” May Face Maximum Sentence

Published: 02 October 2018

Darko-Šarić-u-sudnici-prt-scDarko Saric (KRIK)

By Aida Cerkez

Serbia’s prosecutor requested the maximum possible sentence for the Balkan “Cocaine King” Darko Saric and his associates on Friday for allegedly smuggling tons of cocaine from South American countries to Europe.

Saric was indicted eight years ago. He and members of his network had already been sentenced to decades in prison in 2015. He appealed and the Appeals Court annulled these sentences and ordered a retrial, stating only that court procedure was breached in the first instance trial.

In 2015, Saric was sentenced to 20 years. Now, after the final words of Serbia’s prosecutor Sasa Ivanic on Friday, he may be facing 40.

Saric’s group profited from distributing an amount of cocaine unprecedented in the region, all the while knowing they were jeopardizing the health of millions of people, Ivanic said, according to the Serbian Crime and Corruption Reporting Network (KRIK).

Ivanic, the prosecutor, requested lower sentences for crown witnesses who had worked with Saric and helped to prove the crimes his network stands accused of. 

The defense and the accused will be addressing the court next month. 

In regional media, Saric was depicted as the brain behind one of the largest and most successful drug-smuggling operations ever recorded in the Balkans. His name first surfaced in connection with a massive cocaine seizure in 2009.

The elusive drug lord allegedly operated under the eyes of law enforcement in several countries for years. It is believed his success was partly due to strong connections he had with several powerful Serbian and Montenegrin businessmen and officials

Saric was first indicted in 2010. Since then, he and those alleged to be members have been charged in multiple indictments for smuggling a total of 5.7 tons of cocaine into Europe and laundering the profits--estimated to be € 22 million (US$ 24 million). At first Saric was tried in absentia, until he turned himself in voluntarily in March 2014.