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Bosnian police arrested 25 suspected criminals and raided dozens of sites in what has been called the “largest police action since the  Dayton Accords”.
The police action, codenamed "Lutka", ["Doll"], conducted on September 12 at locations in towns across Bosnia, resulted in the arrest of 25 suspected members of organized Balkan crime rings, police said.
The Bosnian Prosecutor's Office on Wednesday said that all relevant police agencies had joined the State Investigative and Protection Agency, SIPA, in investigating at least six unsolved murders and attempted murders, major bank robberies and other grave criminal acts.
“This action is the most extensive action in the fight against the organized crime in post-Dayton Bosnia,” the Prosecutor's office said, referring to the accord that ended the 1992-5 war in the country.
“This is an investigation into several criminal groups... and significant collaboration of police and judicial agencies was achieved with neighboring countries, where a number of the suspects also reside,” the Bosnian Prosecutor said on Wednesday.
The crimes in which the arrested men are suspected of involvement relate to the last ten years and include some of the biggest murder cases in post-war Bosnia.
Among the raided locations, SIPA raided the Hotel Casa Grande in Ilidza, near Sarajevo, owned by Naser Kelmendi, an alleged Balkan drugs boss.
Asked about Kelmendi, the director of SIPA, Goran Zubac, said in Sarajevo on Wednesday that he could not give any exact details, but he divulged that some of the arrested men were state officials, including members of SIPA.
The Center for Investigative Journalism, CIN Bosnia, reported that the arrested men include Bojan Cvijan, former chief of the Narcotics Department in SIPA, and Ljubisa Lalovic, a former employee of the Bosnian Border Police.
Zubac said that some of the arrested men “were part of the security and other structures of the Bosnian authorities.
“This is the beginning of the end of organized crime in Bosnia and Herzegovina,” Zubac claimed.
At the same time, on Wednesday, the Serbian and Montenegrin Interior Ministers, Ivica Dacic and Ivan Brajovic, in Sarajevo met the Bosnian Security Minister, Sadik Ahmetovic.
While police have refused to confirm whether Kelmendi is a suspect, addressing the media, Ahmetovic said that the police know where he is, while Brajevic said he certainly was not in Montenegro, referring to speculation that he was based there.
Kelmendi was put on a US blacklist as an alleged drug-trafficker this year. According to CIN, Kosovo-born Kelmendi and his three sons, Elvis, Liridon and Besnik, along with his brother, Becir, run several businesses in Bosnia, Montenegro, Serbia and Kosovo, including hotels and a trucking company.
He is suspected of leading one of the biggest crime rings in the Balkans and of trafficking drugs to Europe through the Balkans.
A 2008 report by SIPA described Kelmendi as the head of one of the best organized criminal organizations in the region, allegedly smuggling drugs and cigarettes, trafficking in people and laundering money.
Although Kelmendi was indicted numerous times in Bosnia, he has never been prosecuted. Members of the Kelmendi family have been charged with unauthorized possession of weapons, murder and attempted murder.
His attorney recently told Balkan Insight that his client was innocent and that he wanted a chance to prove his innocence of the accusations of illegal business activities.
“The media just want sensations and they make inflammatory claims about him,” his lawyer, Mithat Koco, said.
SIPA director Zubac said on Wednesday that the investigation will continue and predicted other arrests related to suspicions of drug smuggling, illegal money transfers, preparing and conducting murders and misusing official positions.
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