Bosnia arrests 23 in Europol-backed action against drug cartel

By Thomson Reuters Apr 23, 2024 | 8:01 AM

SARAJEVO (Reuters) – Bosnian police backed by international law enforcement agencies raided dozens of locations and arrested 23 people suspected of working for the jailed kingpin of a European drug cartel, the European Union police agency (Europol) said on Tuesday.

Among those arrested during raids in Sarajevo, Mostar and Zenica on Monday were several high-ranking police officials suspected of organised crime and money laundering, Bosnia’s chief prosecutor said in a statement.

Suspects were being questioned to decide whether formal charges will be filed.

“Europol supported yesterday´s action which serves as another milestone in the fight against the so-called ‘super cartel’, an alliance of criminal networks that controls much of Europe’s cocaine trade,” a Europol statement said.

It said the main aim of the operation was to nab the inner circle of a Bosnian-Dutch druglord who was convicted and jailed in the Netherlands in 2023 but might still be steering the drug trade from South America to Europe and Australia.

The man, who Europol did not name, was among 49 suspects arrested in 2022 in coordinated raids carried out across Europe and the United Arab Emirates, targeting major alleged drug bosses.

Europol specialists as well as agents of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) backed the Bosnian police raids.

(Reporting by Daria Sito-Sucic; editing by Mark Heinrich)