MARCH 19 2010 13:32h
Serbia recently launched a major crackdown on organised crime, and arrested dozens of members of a cartel smuggling huge amounts of drugs.
BELGRADE, March 19, 2010 (AFP) - Serbian President Boris Tadic vowed Friday to wage an all-out war on organised crime, in particularly drugs trafficking cartels, saying the scourge represented the biggest threat to society.
"I believe that we have no alternative policy and that a relentless fight against organised crime is an obligation for the entire leadership of the state," Tadic told the Tanjug news agency.
"Serbia simply cannot allow organised crime to spread, in particularly drugs trafficking, as it poses the biggest danger to our society. That crime must be wiped out," Tadic said.
Serbia recently launched a major crackdown on organised crime, and arrested dozens of members of a cartel smuggling huge amounts of drugs from South America to Europe.
According to Tadic, the size and the importance of the ongoing fight against organised crime and narco cartels could only be compared to 'Operation Saber' -- the vast offensive against organised crime launched after the murder of reformist prime minister Zoran Djindjic in 2003.
In the months after Djindjic's death, the authorities arrested hundreds of people accused of involvement in organised crime.
As part of the current crackdown the US Drug Enforcement Agency and the Serbian security agency seized 2.8 tonnes of cocaine in international waters last October. The drugs had an estimated value of 120 million euros (170 million dollars) and were destined for the European market.
Several members of the trafficking ring have since been arrested while Serbia has issued an international arrest warrant for the suspected leader Darko Saric.
A Belgrade court has also approved prosecutors' demands to impound the property of suspected criminals. Local media have reported on dozens of companies and luxurious houses taken from suspects, their families and lawyers.
Tadic said he has evidence that the Serbian cartels have also attempted to penetrate state institutions to destabilise the government.
"The latest property seizures prove that those groups have laundered narco money by investing not only into their personal houses and land but also in tourism, factories (and) distribution of the press," Tadic said.
Last month the interior minister Ivica Dacic said that high ranking government officials including Tadic received death threats from narco cartels on a daily basis.