Four journalistic pieces that are a product of the collaboration between journalists from the Balkan region and Latin America.
By: Dorjana Bezat
Peru has become the new cocaine "oasis" for Albanians after clashes in Colombia and Ecuador led them to explore new territory. According to Professor Ervin Karamuço, Peru has become the new destination of Albanian crime because it is easier to obtain cocaine first-hand, and the country offers less complicated access to export cocaine to Europe. Peru is one of the world's largest producers of cocaine, with about 400 tons a year, and is also one of the largest producers of coca leaf, the raw material for cocaine. Recent episodes of violence between different Albanian criminal organizations and with Ecuadorian gangs have encouraged Albanians to explore Peruvian territory. They have found new lines to send cocaine from Peru to ports in Europe. These organizations take advantage of exports of fruit and other agricultural products to Europe to infiltrate cocaine in large quantities. Albanian authorities have not yet discovered any cases of cocaine trafficking from Peru to Albania.
By: Dorjana Bezat
An Albanian and Italian criminal group were arrested in a joint anti-drug operation between local Peruvian authorities, the American DEA, the Italian Guardia Di Finanza, and the German police, which was carried out on September 2, 2022. The group was trafficking tons of super pure cocaine from Peru to Europe. The Albanian criminal group consisted of three people, led by Robert Suloti, while the Italian group was part of the infamous Ndragheta, controlling 80% of the cocaine traffic in Europe. The operation led to the discovery of hundreds of kilograms of cocaine, money, weapons, and vehicles. The Albanian Emiljano Mamo, who was accused of attempted murder and illegal possession of firearms in Albania in 2018, was among those arrested.
By: Maria Belén (Ecuador) and Jelena Zoric´ (Serbia)
Milan Milovac managed to live in Ecuador as a ghost for eleven years before he was killed in January 2021. He avoided an eleven-year prison sentence for drug charges in Serbia and obtained a false Ecuadorean identity by fraudulent means, which enabled him to take advantage of the benevolent atmosphere towards foreign visitors in the country. Allegedly, Milovac was the local representative of cocaine's Serbian cartel led by Darko Saric, dealing with a Colombian supplier and sending drugs through the port of Guayaquil. He lived under a false identity in a rented villa in a private, exclusive urbanization and was enabled to vote in Ecuador's last election process in February 2023, which raises concerns about the country's money laundering control system and judicial system.
By: Isabel Mercado, Bolivia
The presence of the Balkan mafia in Bolivia has been revealed through a series of murders linked to drug trafficking. The first murder occurred in Peru, where the leader of the hitmen was Bolivian Diego Rivera Landivar. The second murder occurred in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, where the Serbian Goran Popovic was shot three times in the skull by a Bolivian hitman. The investigation revealed the presence of "Grupo America", a relevant faction of the Balkan mafia that has been trafficking drugs from South America to Europe since 2008. The Bolivian Leonardo Vaca Diez Gentile was identified as the mastermind behind Popovic's murder. Despite the international reports and information from Interpol and international security agencies, the Balkan mafia groups and "Grupo America" managed to stay off the radar of justice in Bolivia.