Serbian police arrest 68 in nationwide operation targeting organised criminals

By bne IntelliNews September 11, 2016

Serbian police have arrested 68 people suspected of committing multiple crimes and seized 13kg of various narcotics in an operation conducted in several cities throughout the country, the ministry of interior affairs announced on September 11.

The Serbian government warned recently of an increase in the threat of organised crime, especially human trafficking, which it claims has been accelerated due to the ongoing migration crisis. Thousands of illegal migrants, many from conflict zones in the Middle East and North Africa, have been trying to enter Serbia from Bulgaria and Macedonia on their way to Western Europe.

“Operation Tsunami” targeted people suspected of numerous crimes including rape and other forms of violence, unauthorised possession of weapons and explosives, production and smuggling of narcotics, human trafficking and engaging in prohibited sexual acts, Serbian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior Affairs Nebojsa Stefanovic said. 

He added that in one apartment in Belgrade, police found four migrants who were there for the “purpose of human trafficking”.

“During the search, policemen found also six pistols, one revolver, one automatic gun and large amount of various munitions as well as a large amount of money,” Stefanovic said on September 11, Tanjug reported.

Stefanovic announced that those arrested included four Bulgarian members of an organised international criminal group, which has been smuggling drugs to Serbia, destined both for the Serbian market and for West European markets.

“During the search of their vehicles, we found two heroin packets of 2,200g. Their total street value is envisaged at over €150,000,” Stefanovic said.  

“A total of 5.7kg of various psychoactive drugs were seized during the action - 2.5kg of heroin, 2.5kg of marijuana, 700g of amphetamines, 1,208 marijuana plants, 50 pieces of different drugs in different forms and two laboratories for the production of narcotics, " Stefanovic said.

Operation Tsunami was conducted in several towns including the capital Belgrade, second city Novi Sad, the northern towns of Apatin and Sombor, and Krusevac and other towns in the central and southern regions of the country.

Local media reported that the police are still looking for 10 more people.

In July, Serbia set up joint police and military forces to prevent the illegal entry of migrants from Bulgaria and Macedonia and to fight human trafficking. According to the latest ministry of defence data, within the last five days the pressure on Serbian borders from Bulgaria and Macedonia has increased as 1,044 migrants tried to pass the borders illegally and eight smugglers who were transporting them were caught. Since July 22, 6,470 migrants have tried to enter Serbia illegally.

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