Serbia: Darko Šarić Surrenders To Avoid ‘Bloodbath’
By Stevan Dojčinović and Bojana Jovanović
Balkan drug lord Darko Šarić, on the run for more than four years, is in police custody today after surrendering to avoid a possible bloodbath, according to Serbian Minister of Justice Nikola Selaković.
Selaković told a Belgrade news conference Tuesday that Šarić decided to turn himself in when he learned last month that police were hot on his trail as he moved through four countries in Latin America.
"We received a request for contact” and began negotiations, said Selaković, adding that Šarić offered to surrender to avoid a possible “bloodbath.” The fugitive set no conditions other than to meet with his mother, his children and his lawyer before being taken into custody.
On Tuesday morning, Šarić was flown from Montenegro to Serbia at 8:40 a.m. Photographs show him laughing, tan and fit. From the airport he was taken to the police station and then to the Special Prosecutor's Office for Organized Crime.
Šarić has been wanted since December 2009, when he disappeared after the seizure of 2.7 tons of cocaine on a ship off the Uruguan coast. Serbian prosecution have filed multiple charges against him, accusing him of smuggling more than five tons of cocaine and laundering more than €20 million (US$28 million).
Another 15 members of his alleged drug-smuggling group are still fugitives, as are three others accused of helping him launder money. Police are also still looking for Rodoljub Radulović, who they say smuggled cocaine with Šarić while maintaining close ties with Serbian politicians.
Selaković credited the Serbian intelligence agency BIA and the Montenegrin ministries of Interior and Justice with helping to find Šarić. They were also assisted by security agencies of other countries such as the United States, Spain, Switzerland and Slovenia, Selaković said.
Reporters for the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) and the Center for Investigative Reporting in Serbia (CINS) have investigated Šarić's work for four years. OCCRP and CINS published a profile of Šarić with information about his businesses, activities and contacts including hundreds of documents. It includes details about his conviction as a youth for stealing salami and chocolate cream, and a list of all associates and firms that OCCRP-CINS journalists discovered were under his control.
Other OCCRP stories on Šarić and his group include:
- Indictment of Montenegrin Businessman Details Drug Trafficking - Details about how Šarić and Radulovic allegedly smuggled two tons of cocaine from Argentina to Europe.
- Drug Family Owned Club In Party Building reveals how Šarić managed an elite night club that was located in the headquarters of the ruling party.
- The story Tracing a Fugitive’s Business Deals details how Šarić made a business deal with German giant its media WAZ worth €30 million, with an exclusive statement from Peter Lange, a member of the board of the company.
- Arrested Businessman Declares Innocence is an exclusive interview by CIN and OCCRP reporters on the eve of the arrest of Zoran Ćopić, who was convicted in Bosnia for money laundering for Šarić.
- Other articles details the life of Rodoljub Radulović and his business ventures around the world, including in the Balkans: Mystery Businessman Linked to Šarić Gang Leadership and A Businessman on the Run.
- Šarić's lawyer, Andrija Krlović, transferred valuable property in Vojvodina to an influential businessman: Businessman Rodić Linked to Šarić’s Lawyer and Radulović.
- Ivica Tonchev, adviser to Prime Minister Dacic, met once with Rodoljub Radulovic, and explains events in the story Serbian PM was Warned of Tončev’s Mafia Ties.