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The criminal investigators of the Criminal police of the Police directorate Ljubljana, together with the Criminal Police Directorate of the General Police Directorate (UKP GPU), based on the request of the Republic of Croatia for the international legal assistance in November of 2017, cooperated with the Croatian and other foreign LEAs in the investigation against the international criminal group, which was dealing with organisation of transports of illicit drug cocaine from Panama to Europe.

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The Croatian LEAs informed us that 58-year-old citizen of Kingdom of the Netherlands and 47- and 59-year-old citizens of Croatia, organisers  of transports of illicit drug cocaine from South America, met in Ljubljana and that other members from the area of Croatia, Netherlands and Colombia also cooperated with the suspects in this organised criminal group. On the territory of the Republic of Slovenia, the cooperation within the international investigation was coordinated by the prosecutor of the Specialized State Prosecution and the Criminal Police Directorate of the General police Directorate.

Within the investigation, on the area of Ljubljana, with the conduction of undercover investigative measures, ordered by the Ljubljana District Court and Specialized State Prosecution of the Republic of Slovenia, several contacts among the stated suspects, the 58-year-old citizen of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and 47- and 59-year-old citizens of the Republic of Croatia, were detected. The Dutch 58-years-old even had a temporarily residence in Ljubljana and the 47-year-old Croat also often stayed at one of the Ljubljana’s hotels.

The stated criminal group acted very cautiously, since they did most of their arrangements personally, on public places and they also used modified phones, all with the intent that the police would not be able to detect them or gather evidence against them. From 2017 November, till the conclusion in the beginning of March 2018, we were able to gather important evidence on the organisation and the manner of the transport and concealment of illicit drug cocaine, on provision of safety of these transports and other details, which contributed to the successful completion and the apprehension of the suspects. 

It was established that, due to the establishing of the logistic route, the suspects had performed several ship transports from South America to the Ports of Rijeka and Koper, where they did not smuggle illicit drugs and in this manner, they checked if the smuggling among the scrap metals and other items (coal, bananas, pineapples) would be successful and whether they would be able to get the shipment past the control authorities, onto the territory of the Republic of Croatia.

We were also able to discover some other persons, who were participating with the a/m persons in different roles, but were not staying on the territory of the Republic of Slovenia.

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With the conduction of measures, it was also established when the ship, loaded with container of metal scrap, where the illicit drug cocaine was concealed, sailed from South America, so that the foreign LEAs could monitor it the entire time and then wait for it at the final destination of the container, in the Port of Rijeka in Croatia. In the meantime, the ship stopped in the Port of Koper in Slovenia and in Venice in Italy and the container was then unloaded from the ship in Rijeka, where Croatian LEAs performed all of the procedures. The Croatian LEAs then informed us that, based on the court orders, they were able to established that 100 packages of the illicit drug cocaine, in the total amount of 118 kg, net weight of 100 kg of cocaine, was well hidden inside the container, filled with metal scrap, among the scrap.

On the same day, in a coordinated action, the criminal investigators of the Criminal Police Division Ljubljana apprehended the 47-year-old citizen of Croatia at the hotel and seized some documentation related to the large bank transactions. 48-hour police custody was ordered against this person. 

For 58-year-old citizen of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, it was established that the Dutch authorities found and arrested him while he was already in Netherlands, on 8. 3. 2018. House searches were performed in the Netherlands, as well as in his apartment in Slovenia and mobile phone and several other items, which could be related to criminal offences, were seized in Ljubljana.

On 9. 3. 2018, the Ljubljana District Court also received a claim from the Republic of Croatia – an European Arrest Warrant (EAW) for 47-year-old citizen of Croatia. The police custody for 47-year-old Croat was concluded based on the arrest warrant, issued by the Ljubljana District Court and the criminal investigators of the Criminal Police Division of the Police Directorate Ljubljana brought him to the hearing before the investigating judge. After the hearing, the investigating judge ordered detention for the purposes of the execution of the EAW against the 47-year-old Croatian citizen. 

In the investigation, the Slovenian criminal investigators were cooperating with the Croatian, Dutch, German, Austrian, Italian, Spanish and American (DEA) LEAs and the Interpol.

Read also a press release of Europol: 100kg of cocaine and 150kg of marijuana seized in major international operation dismantling Balkan cartel