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This international investigation certainly confirms the fact that Slovenia still remains an important factor in illegal drug trafficking on the Balkan route. The country is located on traffic routes between South-East and West Europe, which are also used by various criminal groups engaged in smuggling illegal drugs and illicit substances in sport, weapons, explosives, people and other items.

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More information on the successfully completed international investigation was provided at today's press conference by Slavko Koroš, Assistant Director of the Criminal Police Directorate, Dean Jurić, Head of Criminal Police Division of the Koper Police Directorate, and Karol Koprivnansky, a representative of Europol's Organised Crime Unit.

The cooperation of criminal police forces primarily involves two segments of cooperation, namely joint investigation of concrete cases and exchange of operative data through Interpol, Europol, etc. In the recent period, most investigations in the area of illegal drugs in Slovenia have had international dimensions, which is why it is impossible to efficiently combat illicit drug trafficking without strengthened participation of all countries involved, both in the framework of police and judicial system. Slovenia's role in combating illegal trafficking on the Balkan route is increasingly strengthened, as it is also assuming the role of bringing together the security structures in the region.

The Balkan route is characterised by an intertwining of legal and illegal trade. When we refer to the Balkan route today, we most often speak about trafficking in various types of illegal drugs and the related international organised crime. International smuggling of opiates, especially heroin, has defined the Balkan route, which represents the European continuation of smuggling flows that start in Aphganistan and cross Iran and Turkey before leading towards Europe.

The traditional Balkan illegal drug transport route has become a two-way route, while the extent of smuggling has further increased. Heroin, cannabis, and increasingly cocaine, are being transported to the EU countries, whereas synthetic drugs are transported towards the East. In the European part of Turkey, the Balkan route further divides into three branches: South, Central and North Balkan route. The Central Balkan route leading across Turkey, Bulgaria, former Yugoslav countries and Slovenia towards West Europe is especially significant for Slovenia. However, this area is not only interesting from the aspect of illicit drug smuggling, as other criminal activities are perpetrated in this area as well.


According to what is currently perceived, the Republic of Slovenia is a relatively traditional market of illegal drugs, with the most important trade goods being hemp, heroin and cocaine. In the recent years, increased presence of synthetic drugs has also been detected in larger urban centres. Slovenian criminal groups are involved in smuggling and trafficking all types of illegal drugs. As regards the distribution of illegal drugs, the key role is played by larger urban centres (Ljubljana, Celje, Kranj, Novo mesto, Maribor, Koper), which supply criminal groups and criminally active individuals operating at the local and street level.

Illegal drugs are regarded as an important driving force of a wide range of other forms of deviance such as domestic violence and classic crime, and have important implications for road safety and public security, etc. Such crimes occur as a result of drug use and street-level drug dealing, and are often collectively referred to as secondary crime. Secondary crime is directly related to increase in illegal drugs, and encompasses property crime such as theft, house burglary, robbery, fraud and other forms of violent crime and audacious behaviour committed by drug abusers.

The most significant threat to the security of the Republic of Slovenia is associated with international illegal drug trafficking flows which generate huge profits. Such illegal funds take the form of direct and indirect investment operations and are often transformed into legal funds. Investment of this kind usually takes place in countries and regions where the leading members of criminal associations reside.


This operation clearly indicates that Slovenia's criminal police could not have performed with equal success had it not worked so well and so close with other police services, judicial authorities in the investigation and prosecution of this particular case, and this type of crime in general. Slovenia's criminal police worked side by side with Europol and the law enforcement and judicial authorities of Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Kosovo, Croatia, Italy and Bosnia and Herzegovina. In the outcome of this co-operation large quantities of illegal drugs were seized in Slovenia and abroad, and individuals involved in smuggling illegal drugs were arrested.

On an annual scale the information exchanged via Europol exceeds half a million. In this context, Slovenia is ranked sixth in terms of highest volume of exchanged data by population size. 30 per cent of information exchanged through Europol still relates to illegal drugs. The share of illegal drug information is even higher when it comes to exchange between Slovenia and Europol. The second most exchanged type of information relates to property crime (robbery 18 %). Slovenia's police are regarded as a valuable partner not just in operational policing but also in planning strategic approaches for the Western Balkans.

The statistics for the first six months of 2014 reveal the success Slovenia's police have achieved in preventing the supply of illegal drugs. Almost 62 % more drug-related criminal offences were recorded (Art. 186 and 187 of Slovenia's Penal Code - KZ-1) in the first half of the year in comparison to the same period last year (895 offences in 2013). To a large extent this increase is attributed to extra efforts exerted by police officers and crime investigators across the national, regional and local levels. Yet another achievement is an increase in identifying facilities for cannabis cultivation under artificial light - as many as 63 in the first half of this year compared to 46 over the same period last year.


Together with higher crime rates the drug seizure statistics are also up. Cocaine seizures recorded the highest rise with over 8 kilos already seized this year (compared to 3 kilos over the same period last year).

International criminal investigation

In the early morning of 9 July 2014, over 100 crime investigators and police officers from Koper Police Directorate, in cooperation with the General Police Directorate and Nova Gorica, Novo mesto and Ljubljana Police Directorates, culminated a several month criminal investigation against an international organized crime group engaged in smuggling of and trafficking in illicit drugs. In the context of completing the operation in Slovenia, the police arrested a number of suspects and conducted house searches. Police activities were carried out in the area of Nova Gorica, Novo mesto, Ljubljana, Logatec and Vrhnika.

The Koper criminal police launched a criminal investigation as early as November 2013 at the request of an Italian law enforcement agency - Questure di Trieste, which recorded daily purchases of illicit drugs by Italian nationals on the territory of Slovenia. A 39-year-old Slovenian citizen residing in the Nova Gorica area was identified as a drug dealer. He was in charge of trafficking small amounts of heroin and cocaine and had been known to the Koper police for illicit drug abuse.


At the end of November 2013, the investigation was taken over by the District State Prosecutor's Office, and later by the Specialised Office of the State Prosecutor of Ljubljana. The Koper crime investigators were tasked with monitoring illegal activities by using several covert investigative measures in line with the Criminal Procedure Act.

The collected information on the activities of the suspected Slovenian citizen soon revealed that he was collaborating with a wide organized group of Slovenian, Croatian and Kosovar citizens. They organized an extensive trafficking network for the supply of large quantities of cannabis, heroin and cocaine between Albania - Kosovo - Serbia - Croatia - Slovenia - Austria - Germany - Switzerland. In total, 36 suspects were identified during the investigation (8 Slovenian, 1 Croatian, 11 Kosovar, 3 Austrian, 2 German, 3 Italian, 7 Serbian and 1 Romanian citizens).

The main role of the Slovenian, Serbian and Croatian suspects was to provide logistical support for drug trafficking from Kosovo to EU countries; the Austrian, Italian and German citizens involved purchased large quantities of trafficked drugs. The suspects from Kosovo were largely in charge of organizing trafficking in illicit drugs. Based on the fact that suspects from several different countries were involved, the Koper criminal police, coordinated by the Criminal Police Directorate and Europol, began a close cooperation with the law enforcement agencies from Croatia, Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Bosnia and Herzegovina, EULEX Kosovo and Kosovo police.


Through covert investigative measures and in collaboration with law enforcement agencies from other EU member states, the police intercepted several couriers and customers and seized illicit drugs as follows:

  • 10 November 2013: seizure of 41 grams of cocaine from an Italian citizen following a purchase of the drug from a 39-year-old suspect from Nova Gorica,
  • 15 January 2014: seizure of 1.6 kg of heroin in Switzerland and apprehension of two Kosovar-Albanian couriers,
  • 7 February 2014: seizure of 8 kg of cannabis in Austria and apprehension of a courier (citizen of Kosovo),
  • 26 February 2014: seizure of 290 grams of cocaine in Austria and apprehension of a Serbian citizen,
  • 16 March 2014: seizure of 19.26 kg of cannabis at the Serbian/Croatian border crossing point Ilok and apprehension of a courier (Croatian citizen),
  • 4 April 2014: seizure of 0.5 kg of heroin in Austria and apprehension of two couriers (citizens of Austria and Serbia),
  • 14 April 2014: seizure of 13.9 kg of cannabis in Germany and apprehension of a drug customer (German citizen),
  • 16 April 2014: seizure of 2.5 kg of cannabis in Austria and apprehension of a courier (Slovenian citizen),
  • 16 May 2014: seizure of 16.4 kg of cannabis at the Slovenska Vas border crossing point and apprehension of a courier (Slovenian citizen),
  • 15 June 2014: seizure of 8.6 kg heroin in Austria and apprehension of a courier (Serbian citizen).

In total, more than 70 kg of illicit drugs were seized in the course of the investigation, namely: 10.7 kg of heroin, 60 kg of cannabis and 331 g of cocaine. According to a rough estimate, the value of the crime group's proceeds of crime might have amounted to at least 500,000-700,000 euros if the seized drugs had been sold on the black market, and up to 1 million euros in case of retail sale.


The success of the operation resulted from a number of factors: initial information from the Italian police, close and committed cooperation between police forces during the investigation, and coordination provided by Europol from the Hague and by the Office of the District State Prosecutor of Koper and the Specialised Office of the State Prosecutor of Ljubljana. Police collaboration was based on daily analysis of criminal investigation results, on taking joint decisions concerning specific operational activities, and on performing jointly agreed actions. The ultimate goal was to identify as many involved offenders as possible and to dismantle the entire crime group.

Criminal charges will be filed against the suspects with competent prosecution authorities by Austrian, Swiss, Italian, Croatian and German law enforcement agencies.

The Koper criminal police filed criminal charges against 31 suspects from the investigated crime group for a total of 19 criminal offences of unlawful manufacture of and trade in illicit drugs, illegal substances in sport and precursor substances for production of illicit drugs under Article 186 of the Penal Code (KZ-1). This criminal offence is punishable by a 3-year to 15-year sentence of imprisonment.