Eleven detained in Croatia, Spain over cocaine smuggling

24th May 2011, Comments 0 comments

Police in Croatia and Spain smashed a trans-Atlantic cocaine smuggling ring from the Balkans, arresting 11 people suspected of trafficking some 700 kilos of cocaine, officials said Tuesday.

The detained, suspected of being members of so-called "Balkan Cartel," smuggled at least 718 kilos (1,580 pounds) of cocaine from Brazil into Europe in 2010, the deputy head of the national Bureau for the Fight Against Corruption and Organised Crime (USKOK), Natalija Petkovic, told journalists.

The street value of the drugs is estimated at more than 20 million euros (28 million dollars).

Six Croatian nationals, suspected of taking part in the smuggling ring, were detained last week in Croatia and neighbouring Bosnia, police official Tomislav Stambuk said.

Another five suspects were detained earlier in May in the Spanish port of Valencia and the police seized 368 kilos of cocaine.

The five -- two Croatians, one Albanian, one Serb and one Slovenian national -- took over the drugs that had been brought in on a container ship from Brazil and were thought to be about to forward it to a further destination.

The operation was conducted in an intensive international cooperation with Spanish, Dutch, Slovenian, Bosnian and Czech authorities as well as the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), officials said.

Croatia lies on the so-called Balkans route used by criminals to smuggle drugs, weapons and immigrants towards western Europe.

© 2011 AFP

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