Text of report by "E.B." entitled "Serbian drug barons are big players in Europe" published by Serbian newspaper Blic on 27 March
Belgrade: Serbian drug barons, who maintain strong ties with cocaine traders in Colombia, the world's biggest producer of this narcotic, have strong business contacts also with the Albanian mafia, police information indicates.
These good contacts on both sides of the Atlantic and highly functional trafficking routes, whereby tons of cocaine are smuggled from South America to Europe, have enabled them to take a place among the most powerful drugs traffickers in Europe.
People have only recently become aware of the existence of one of them, Dragan Ilic from Nis, who was arrested in Argentina for the smuggling of 171 kg of cocaine in 0.7 litre bottles designated for Spain; two others are still out of reach of the police. Ilic would have remained out of the public eye if he had not drawn attention to himself with his spectacular wedding to Miss Venezuela, at which stars of our entertainment industry firmament performed, led by Ceca Raznatovic.
One of those not available to the police was born in Kosovo and is associated with a shipment of 200 kg of cocaine in earthenware jars, while the other is associated with the smuggling of 164 kg of the drug from Panama to Bosnia-Hercegovina. A shipment of nearly 100 kg of cocaine, seized by the Greek police in Athens, is also attributed to him.
"Ilic was introduced into the business by Sreten Jocic, better known as Joca Amsterdam, while the other two made use of the old contacts that existed between the Serbian mafia and the Colombians, with the Medellin Cartel. These contacts have been operational for two decades and the original founders on both sides are long dead," our source in the police says.
The Serbs have founded their empires, however, on this old friendship. Using well-oiled smuggling channels across the Atlantic, they smuggle cocaine from South America to the drugs markets in the EU countries. The US Drugs Enforcement Administration (DEA) is keeping a watchful eye on the Serbian drugs barons, so that the job is done by their underlings. They themselves have never been caught with so much as a gram of cocaine in their possession, so that they are clean as far as the law is concerned.
"Cocaine is smuggled by ship from South American ports - Colombia, Venezuela, Peru, Brazil, Panama and Mexico - to the most far-flung point of Europe, the Spanish Canary Islands. From there it goes to other ports, such as Rotterdam in the Netherlands, Hamburg in Germany, Marseille on the Cote d'Azur, and Piraeus, as well as Scandinavian, Italian and Belgian ports," our source explains.
Apart from the main smuggling route through the Canary Islands, there is also a direct line between South America and Europe, where the Serbian troika has a significant share of the market. Their strong positions are due in a large measure to good cooperation with the Albanian mafia, both in smuggling cocaine from South America and in using the Albanian connection inside Europe.
"Part of the cocaine ends up on our market as well, coming in mostly by way of the port of Bar, but these are small quantities," our source in the police says.
Source: Blic, Belgrade, in Serbian 27 Mar 06 p 16