Nine members of an international cocaine smuggling ring were indicted on Friday for drug trafficking by the Croatian Bureau for Combating Corruption and Organized Crime (USKOK). The defendants were arrested last April in Austria and Slovenia, during an international police operation codenamed “Spider Web.”
All nine defendants are charged with trafficking large amounts of cocaine from the Bahamas and the Dominican Republic to Europe, between the fall of 2010 and April 2011. The defendants used rented private jets to transport the drugs from South America into Europe. A portion of the drugs were sold on the Croatian market, and the rest was sold in Western European countries.
According to the authorities, the group’s leader was a Croatian-Canadian citizen Miroslav Anicic. A woman with a dual Croatian and Canadian citizenship was also indicted, along with five Croatian nationals, one Colombian national, and a man with dual Serbian and Bosnian citizenship.
The trafficking group was busted in April last year, when the Austrian police stopped and searched a rented vehicle driven by Anicic and one of the other suspects. The police found more than 100 kilograms of cocaine, with an estimated value of close to €4 million (US$5.2 million). The drugs arrived to Europe via the Stuttgart airport, where Anicic and his co-defendant transferred them to a rented car.
According to the indictment, the group bought 74 kilograms of cocaine in the Bahamas and the Dominican Republic in January last year, and then flew the drugs in a private jet to Zagreb. Two of the defendants then sold at least 59 kilograms of cocaine from the shipment in Croatia and Slovenia. The estimated value of the drugs was €1.9 million (US$2.5 million). The sellers kept a portion of the proceeds for themselves, while the rest of the money went to the “organizer” of the trafficking chain.
USKOK also said Anicic and his associates in Colombia arranged a number of cocaine purchases, with 150 to 200 kilograms of cocaine per shipment. Other members of the group travelled to Colombia in March, bringing €400,000 (US$520,972). However, they were arrested before they completed the transaction.
Among the defendants is an employee of the Zagreb airport, who worked with the drug gang and employees at the Salzburg, Austria and Stuttgart, Germany airports who helped circumvent the cargo control for the flights carrying the cocaine.
The defendants were indicted at the Zagreb County Court. The United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) also participated in the operation.