News 24 May 11

Serbian Criminals Hit Headlines Across Globe

As Leonardo Dicaprio reportedly prepares to shoot a film on the infamous Pink Panther gang, real-life Serbian criminals have hit headlines across the globe this week.

Bojana Barlovac
Belgrade
Cocaine, Photo by Wiki Commons
 Photo by Wiki Commons

While the government reiterated on Monday that the fight against organised crime is a top priority, Serbian criminals allegedly dealing in international crime have been nabbed on two occasions in Spain over the past week.

The latest incident took place this weekend in Madrid, where Spanish police smashed a Serbian gang of 29 men suspected of robbery and fraud in Spain, Portugal and France.

According to police, the criminal group was divided into four groups: one in southern Spain, one in the Basque region, northern Spain and southern France, one in the eastern Spanish city of Castellon, and one in Portugal.

In a separate incident last Thursday, three Serbians and three Montenegrins were arrested in Spain on suspicion that they attempted to smuggle 77 kilograms of cocaine. The drugs were transported from Argentina aboard a ship, and were intercepted in the port of Tarragona.

Meanwhile, the country's Foreign Minister, Vuk Jeremic stressed on Monday at a meeting of the Adriatic-Ionian Initiative in Brussels, where Serbia took over the chairmanship of the initiative, that the fight against organised crime will remain Serbia's priority. He also noted the need for regional cooperation for the issue to be resolved.

Montenegrin and Serbian criminals have hit headlines before for large-scale crime, in particular for cocaine smuggling from South America to Western Europe.

On top of the list is Darko Saric, the alleged leader of an organised criminal group which is suspected of smuggling over 2.1 tons of high quality cocaine from South America to Europe. Saric, who is of Montenegrin origin but holds Serbian citizenship,is currently at large and a warrant has been issued for his arrest.

The Serbian prosecutor filed charges against Darko Saric and his associates in April 2010.

Zoran Nikolic, Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for Criminological and Sociological Research, said that these criminals are high profile criminals but "still cannot be compared on the basis of international influence and abilities with the Pink Panthers."

The Pink Panther gang became infamous after a jewel heist in London's upscale Mayfair district in 1993 valued at around half a million euros. British police called the gang "The Pink Panthers" in reference to a series of 1960s movies starring Peter Sellers.

It is estimated that the group's robberies in cities all over the world over the last 10 years netted them some €250 million. Interpol headquarters in Lyon formed a special project to deal with the gang, and while some have been arrested and convicted, others remain at large.

According to Serbian daily Blic, a screenwriter visited Belgrade last week to meet with Interpol officials and a Radio Belgrade host about the Dicaprio Pink Panthers film.

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