POLICE and intelligence agents in Serbia have arrested 17 suspected gangsters in a crackdown on one of Europe’s most violent mafias.
Serbian police were assisted by the country’s BIA intelligence agency in arresting 17 members of a brutal mafia clan based in the capital Belgrade. The suspected gangsters have been connected to kidnappings, murders, extortion, and drug dealing as part of what local police say are “the most monstrous crimes in the last couple of decades”.
President Aleksander Vucic said the arrests marked “a big blow to the mafia and organised crime”, which have blighted Serbia, the surrounding Balkans area, and other parts of Europe for decades. The gang reportedly used the Principi fan club of Belgrade’s Partizan football team to carry out their violent underworld activities.
The Belgrade group has also been linked to a bloody feud in the neighbouring country of Montenegro. Since the Kavac and Skaljari clans split into a gang war in 2014, there have been 171 murders between the two sides. Operating out of the scenic Adriatic resort city of Kotar, the mafia clans are responsible for importing drugs into Europe from South America.
The Balkans region, which suffers from a violent and complex past, is home to some of Europe’s most violent and sophisticated organised mafia groups. Gangs from Serbia, Croatia, Montenegro, and Albania have been connected to high-profile murders and drug rackets across the continent – including Spain, Italy, and Scandanavia.
Serbia’s most infamous mafia clan, the Belgrade-based Zemun Mafia, is also active in Australia and North America. Some Serbian mafiosos have been linked to war crimes committed during the brutal collapse of Yugoslavia in the early 1990s.
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