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    International Crackdown on Balkan Drug Cartel – Seizure of 2.7 Tons of Cocaine in the Atlantic

    In a major international operation, law enforcement agencies from several countries, including Brazil, Croatia, France, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Slovenia, and the United States, collaborated to dismantle a powerful Balkan drug cartel involved in smuggling cocaine from South America to the European Union. Coordinated by the Maritime Analysis and Operations Centre – Narcotics (MAOC-N) and Europol, alongside Poland’s Central Bureau of Police Investigation (CBŚP), the operation resulted in the arrest of six individuals and the seizure of 2.7 tons of cocaine. The suspects’ assets, including luxury cars, valuable watches, and over €550,000 in cash, were also confiscated. Bank accounts were frozen, and properties were secured pending further investigation.

    The investigation, which began in early 2022, targeted a Serbian-led cartel responsible for large-scale drug trafficking operations. Ships originating from Cape Verde and other ports on the west coast of Africa were utilized to transport narcotics to Brazil, where the illegal cargo was loaded. These shipments were destined for European ports, from where the drugs would be distributed across EU markets. The network primarily consisted of individuals from former Yugoslav countries, with a Serbian mastermind at the helm. The criminals employed encrypted communication platforms such as Encrochat, Sky ECC, and Anom to coordinate their activities. Through the analysis of these platforms and continuous monitoring of intercontinental maritime traffic, law enforcement agencies were able to identify suspects and trafficking routes.

    In late August, a coordinated operation took place, primarily in Serbia and the Atlantic Ocean. Six individuals were apprehended, multiple searches were conducted, and the suspects’ assets, including luxury cars, high-end watches, and over €550,000 in cash, were seized. Bank accounts were frozen, and properties were secured pending the ongoing investigation. Additionally, Spanish authorities intercepted a shipment of 2.7 tons of cocaine hidden on a vessel in the Atlantic Ocean.

    Poland’s Central Bureau of Police Investigation played a crucial role in the international operation by exchanging vital information about individuals suspected of organizing drug smuggling and analyzing data related to maritime transports, which could have been used for large-scale smuggling activities.

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