Twenty-five Arrested as Bosnian Police Crack Down on Organized Crime
In a massive raid Wednesday morning, Bosnian police arrested 25 people they say are associated with a Bosnian drug gang on suspicion of murders, multimillion-dollar robberies and other serious organized crimes.
Several hundred officers searched 30 sites, including the Casa Grande Hotel, owned by Naser Kelmendi, a Kosovo-born businessman whom US officials have blacklisted as an international drug lord.
According to information from Sarajevo’s ministry of interior affairs, Kelmendi himself has not been arrested. In June, he was added to a list of 97 foreign criminals who face sanctions under the US Kingpin Act.
The director of the Bosnian state security agency SIPA, Goran Zubac, said in a press conference that the raids were only the first phase in a much larger operation aimed to dismantle Bosnia’s largest organized crime organization.
“Further coordinated actions and arrests will be carried out after thorough analysis and deliberation,” he said.
Zubac indicated that SIPA has managed to collect substantial evidence, including the identification of the organization’s members, their habits and interests, as well as their associates within government structures in BiH.
Members have been linked to six unsolved murders, the robbery of 4.4 million KM from the Privredna Bank of Sarajevo and the robbery of 660,000 KM from the BH Post.
Zubac identified a selection of other committed crimes as well. They included the intent to murder a police officer who had been investigating their organization, major robberies and loan-sharking.
All these crimes, according to Zubac, were committed with the aim of acquiring huge material benefit and inciting fear among the citizenry. He said that their actions could have grave and unforeseeable repercussions on the Bosnian state.
The repercussions on Naser Kelmendi are equally unforeseeable.
Kelmendi is a known business associate of Fahrudin Radoncic, the Bosnian politician and newspaper owner who is widely believed to be trying to secure the position of minister of security, which controls SIPA.
Radoncic’s paper Dnevni Avaz announced the raid three days earlier, saying it was an attempt to discredit the owner. Furthermore, Radoncic’s ministry appointment has been stalled and may be dead after disagreements between parties in the ruling coalition.