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Criminal organization trafficking cocaine from S. America to EU and other countries dismantled in coordinated cross-border operation

A cross border investigation of cocaine trafficking from South America to EU and other countries, which lasted for several years, led to the dismantling of a criminal organization composed principally of Montenegrin citizens and also involving citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Italy and Serbia.

During the investigation between 2019 and 2020, more than six tons of cocaine were seized in Aruba, Cote d’Ivoire, Portugal and Spain, links with different criminal networks were uncovered, numerous suspects were identified, prosecuted, and convicted.

On 27 July 2022 a coordinated action day took place in Montenegro and upon MLA requests from Special Prosecutor’s Office of Montenegro in Croatia, Italy and Serbia. House searches were carried out at 37 locations out of which 33 in Montenegro where 8 suspects were arrested and expensive watches, bank cards, documents, ammunition and weapons, a vehicle, a speedboat, and cash were seized.

The Special Police Department of Montenegro filed a criminal report against 24 citizens of Montenegro, 2 citizens of Italy and 2 citizens of Serbia, all suspected of committing crimes of creating a criminal organization and  of drug trafficking.

Europol facilitated the exchange of information and provided continuous analytical support to the investigation. 

The following law enforcement authorities were involved in the joint action: National Police of Italy (Polizia di Stato), National Police of Croatia (Ravnateljstvo policije), National Police of Montenegro (Uprava policije), National Police of the Netherlands (Politie), Judicial Police of Portugal (Policia Judiciaria),  Criminal Investigations Directorate of Serbia (Uprava kriminalističke policije), National judicial police of Slovenia (Uprava kriminalistične policije) and the Civil Guard of Spain (Guardia Civil).

The regional project Countering Serious Crime in the Western Balkans significantly supported Special Prosecutor’s Office of Montenegro since the beginning of police investigation by suggestions on instruments for international judicial cooperation, by providing legal and practical advice, by facilitating contacts with authorities of involved countries and by active participation at operational meetings. Organizational and financial support for participation of the representatives of the Special Prosecutor’s Office and Special Police Department at several operational meetings and for translation of documentary evidence was also provided.

The project CSCWB is co-financed by the European Union, the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development German Government (BMZ) and the Italian Ministry of Interior and implemented by the German Agency for International development (GIZ), the Italian Ministry of Interior and the Centre for International Legal Cooperation (CILC). The main objective is to strengthen the cross-border cooperation to counter serious and organised crime in the Western Balkans with institutions and networks of the EU.

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