21:55 / 25.05.2023.

Author: Katja Miličić

International police operation takes down criminal cell, arresting 37

Police released a video of the raid

Police released a video of the raid

Foto: MUP / YouTube

An international law enforcement operation coordinated by EUROPOL resulted in the arrest of 37 members of an extremely violent criminal cell operating the Western Balkans.

Under the leadership of a Bosnian national, this powerful criminal gang was mainly involved in the trafficking of large quantities of drugs and firearms across Europe.

On Wednesday, May 24, several simultaneous raids were carried out in Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Netherlands, Italy, Belgium and Germany. These operations were coordinated from a command post in Zagreb with the support of EUROPOL officers deployed in the field.

Police arrested 37 suspects, including the leader of the group, a citizen of Bosnia and Herzegovina who EUROPOL considers a "high-value target" and who is currently serving a 4-year prison sentence in Italy.

Investigators discovered that the suspected leader continued to conduct his gang's criminal activities from his prison cell. It is believed that from there he regularly gave orders and instructions to his subordinates on matters related to drug and firearms trafficking.

The buildings that were searched during the raids include a prison cell in Belgium, a garage in the Netherlands that was used to store cocaine, and several buildings in Croatia, Germany, Slovenia and Bosnia and Herzegovina where drugs, firearms and explosives were stored.

This international operation followed a complex investigation conducted by Croatian Police as part of the "Balkan Cartel" operational working group.

An intelligence operation carried out by Europol, following the recent takedown of three encrypted communication tools used by criminals - Encrochat, Sky ECC and Anom - revealed the pervasiveness of Balkan criminals in the global criminal underworld.

In response to the threat coming from this region, Europol established the "Balkan Cartel" operational task force, which gathers investigators from all over Europe and the world.

In addition to the take-down of this network, the activities carried out as part of this working group recently led to the dismantling in Serbia of the largest drug trafficking organization in the Balkans.

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