Drug trafficking routes go via Balkans: ‘Mafia uses a disordered system’


Bosnian state institutions issued no clarification on the large seizure of drugs which occurred the last weekend under still unexplained circumstances. The seizure included more than 120 kilos of cocaine, found in the packages of bananas. Where did the drugs come from, who was supposed to take it over, who was it intended for? According to institutions, the investigation is ongoing and the public will be timely informed about it.

How do drugs from South America get to the Western Balkans?

In the last few years, the ports of Ploce and Rijeka in Croatia, Durres in Albania, and Bar in Montenegro have been key points where drugs from South America was arriving. Cocaine reaches the Adriatic through these ports, “because that's where the mafia calculated it is very easy to corrupt customs officers and police officers,” according to Marko Nicovic, former head of the Belgrade police, who spoke to N1.

State police allegedly seized 124 kg of cocaine in Siroki Brijeg

“On the other hand, the technical equipment of the police and customs for cargo control is not that great, and third, it is known that heroin, cocaine and synthetic drug routes cross the Balkans. What the mafia uses here is a kind of non-cooperation between the police, because every criminal police on the territory of the former Yugoslavia sees any request from the police as a political lens, which means there is no sincere cooperation on the matter of crime,” said the former police officer.

“In the Croatian ports, for example, we know that last year half a ton of cocaine was seized in Ploce, and in Bosnia the mafia uses the gap, that is, the empty space between the cantons, the Federation, and the Republika Srpska (Bosnia's administrative units of various levels) and they connect extremely well, regardless of religious, national or political affiliation. affinity or sympathy. They have only one goal, money and power,” he stressed.

According to Nicovic, the mafia is using well the corruption in the region for their own benefit. Also, the authorities are trying to protect organised crime, which is seen through the Sky app they use for communication between authorities, police, criminals.

“It is a kind of symbiosis,” he stressed.

Nicovic also said that foreign law enforcement agencies know there is no cooperation, which is why they are exerting pressure on political actors to make arrests happen.

“Everything is happening due to the pressure of large police systems outside the country,” he added.

The cooperation among smugglers better than the cooperation of police structures

Former Bosnian security minister Selmo Cikotic told N1 that cooperation with EUROPOL, Interpol and other agencies has existed for years, but the contact point with EUROPOL, which was supposed to be formed at the Ministry of Security, has not yet taken into effect, and is managed by the Directorate for coordination of police bodies.

“It is important to know that security agencies within BiH have successfully cooperated with EUROPOL for years, but it is also important to know that those involved in the drug trade cooperate much better, more practically and more efficiently than the cooperation of security structures. Today, everyone understands that the fight against such security challenges cannot be conducted at the level of a closed, small system,” stressed Cikotic.

‘Criminals use the shortcomings of a certain system, they are intelligent’

Former minister deems that criminal groups use a complicated system.

“Criminals are intelligent people, they recognise the interstices, cavities and shortcomings of a certain system, and the connection between these (criminal) structures and certain political and security structures should also be recognised. And BiH is also a suitable area for such cooperation. But despite everything, in the past period, Bosnia and Herzegovina has made significant strides in the fight against human trafficking, and in the fight against terrorism, illegal drug trade. I think that what we have been observing for the last few weeks is a logical consequence of that organisational progress,” according to him.

Although he was not part of the operational processes, in a strategic sense he was familiar with the fact that the context of the increased presence of international agencies in BiH had a political and judicial, economic and financial, but basically criminal background.