By Biljana Pekusic
The arrest of 200 suspected drug dealers in a massive sweep by Serbian authorities targeting marijuana, heroin, cocaine and amphetamine sales was the most recent strike against illegal drugs in Southeast Europe.
Raids were conducted April 19th in 180 locations throughout Serbia, as police confiscated weapons, money and illegal drugs.
”The aim of this action is to suppress narcotics sales in the vicinity of primary and secondary schools,” Serbia Interior Minister Ivica Dacic told SETimes.
Security forces searched houses, apartments and about 30 cafes near schools. They found 3.2kg of various narcotics ready for street sale, as well as eight unregistered guns and a large quantity of ammunition. Sixteen cars were seized, including two that had been reported stolen.
Police in Sopot arrested Zeljko Vujic, 35, and found 2.7kg of heroin.
Five suspected drug dealers were arrested in New Belgrade, and police believe the group was part of a larger operation that allegedly had its own laboratory for the production of methamphetamines. Authorities said they also found chemical products and equipment for the production of drugs.
Serbia’s raid is the most recent in a series of police actions to stem the tide of illegal drugs. Police in the region commonly co-operate and jointly plan such operations.
”We have a daily exchange of information and drug criminals are under joint police escort in the region,” Milorad Veljovic, Serbia police director, told SETimes.
Earlier this year, Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), Serbia and Croatia co-operatated in an investigation into the region’s major drug gangs. The operation, under the code name ”Kozara,” was conducted at the request of the BiH Prosecutor’s Office, while Serbian and Croatian police handled the investigation and arrests.
During the operation from January to March, police searched several locations and arrested five people in Serbia, while the Croatian special police, USKOK, detained five more in Croatia. A total of 55 grams of cocaine, 660 grams of heroin and 600 grams of material for mixing were confiscated, said Gojko Vasic, Republic of Srpska police director.
Police in the two states also seized weapons and ammunition found in hideouts. The suspects were arrested and handed over to the jurisdiction of the BiH Prosecutor’s Office in Sarajevo.
In Montenegro, 11 people were arrested in January and charged in court with operating an organised drug smuggling operation that spanned Albania, Montenegro, Croatia and BiH. Police seized weapons and about 110kg of drugs.
”The fight against drug criminals is extremely important in this region, because in addition to selling drugs, they have a lot of weapons and pose a threat to the safety of all citizens,” Zoran Dragisic, professor at the Belgrade Faculty of Security, told SETimes.