WATCH: Balkan cartel behind cocaine pipeline to Europe busted – High-value targets arrested

By Gangsters Inc. Editors

A Balkan drug cartel was busted by police agencies throughout Europe in the past few months, Europol reported on Monday. 61 suspects in 8 countries were accused of being part of a Balkan cartel that flooded Europe with cocaine. Among those arrested are two of Europol’s high-value targets, both leaders of the organization.

Spanish investigators developed reliable intelligence that this cartel was preparing a major cocaine importation from South America into Europe in spring of this year. Special surveillance measures were put in place as the drug traffickers moved back and forth between Spain and South America to finalize the details of the cocaine shipment of over 1,25 tons.

Kingpins and high-value targets

The investigation gathered pace in March of this year when the leaders of this cartel travelled to Spain to prepare for the arrival of the cocaine shipment. These two individuals – considered as high-value targets by Europol, had until then avoided attending meetings in person in order to evade law enforcement.

  • READ: Coked Up Europe: Increase in cocaine traffic, more players and violence, but ‘Ndrangheta remains key

This was too good of an opportunity for law enforcement to miss, according to Europol. In the early hours of March 10 of this year, officers from the Spanish National Police (Policia Nacional) carried out simultaneous raids in the cities of Tarragona, Barcelona, Gerona and Valencia, arresting 13 individuals, including the two kingpins and a corrupt police officer who collaborated with the criminal organization.

The Spanish investigators also dismantled the cartel’s alternative revenue streams, such as the production and trafficking of marijuana and the sale of luxury vehicles.

Balkan

But authorities weren’t finished.

In a follow-up action in May 2021 some 48 other members of the organized criminal group were charged in Slovenia by the National Police (Policija) for their involvement in the distribution of the cocaine and marijuana throughout Europe. A total of 10 of these suspects are now under arrest. 

This highly mobile criminal organization had branches in several European countries and was composed mainly of criminals from Serbia, Croatia, Montenegro and Slovenia, countries that fall under the Balkan region.

In a report released by Europol earlier this month, the agency warned of the growing influence Balkan criminal organizations had within Europe’s drug market.

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