Crime & Justice

Europol cracks down on Balkan cartel, EU’s largest alleged cocaine network

Madrid, Sep 27 (EFE).- Over 60 suspected members of a Balkan drug cartel flooding Europe with cocaine have been charged in an international law enforcement operation involving eight countries, Europol announced Monday.

Operation Musala, which filed criminal reports against 61 suspects, was led by Spain, Croatia, Serbia, Germany, Slovenia, United States, Colombia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The alleged criminals, who led a highly mobile organisation with branches in several European countries, are from Serbia, Croatia, Montenegro and Slovenia.

Some 2.6 tonnes of cocaine, 324 kilos of cannabis, 612,000 euros in cash and nine luxury vehicles were seized.

Out of the 61 suspects, 23 have been arrested, of whom 13 are in Spain and 10 in Slovenia.

“These criminal gangs have definitely become not only a threat for the European Union but they have reached in the past 20 to 30 years the global level, and at the moment they are one of the most prominent criminal organisations that are affecting the European Union,” Robert Fay, Europol representative of the drugs unit, told a news conference.

Spanish investigators involved in the operation had gathered intelligence that the group was preparing to import 1.25 tonnes of cocaine from South America into Europe in spring 2021.

The first arrests occurred on March 10, when Spanish National police carried out raids in Tarragona, Barcelona, Gerona and Valencia, arresting 13 suspects.

Two months later, in May, 48 other alleged members of the organised criminal group were charged in Slovenia, ten of whom are now under arrest.

“The current reality that we are facing within the European Union is worrying and it requires a bold response from law enforcement,” Fay urged. EFE

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