STA, 3 June 2021 - The Novo Mesto criminal police have apprehended a number of members of a drug trafficking organisation in cooperation with other police departments, seizing a large haul of illegal drugs worth millions of euros. The Slovenian police had been tipped off by the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
The police arrested 17 members, aged between 30 and 53, for drug trafficking and money laundering in mid-May.
France Božičnik, the head of the Novo Mesto criminal police, told today's online press conference that in early 2018 the DEA notified the Slovenian police it had been made aware of illegal activity perpetrated by individuals from Slovenia.
The individuals had been discussing the procurement of a large amount of cocaine in the Dominican Republic. The Slovenian police and their foreign colleagues uncovered that the Slovenians were part of a criminal organisation.
On 18 May this year, 18 house raids were conducted in Ljubljana, Nova Gorica and Celje, leading to a seizure of almost 80 kilos of various drugs, including cocaine, heroin and amphetamine, that were supposed to be distributed in Slovenia.
The police also found equipment for mixing, compressing and packing drugs. The analysis of the seized haul is ongoing, but according to an initial estimate the drugs are valued at millions of euros.
Nine of the 17 detained members have been taken into judicial custody. All of them are Slovenian citizens.
Seven individuals were also charged with money laundering after the police established that they had been part of an international money laundering network that was active in Italy, Germany, Serbia and Slovenia.
The criminal organisation of 17 Slovenians was allegedly run by a 36-year-old Ljubljana citizen, who was also in charge of drug procurement. Most of the suspects are familiar faces to the police.
At the start of the Covid-19 epidemic the police detected disruption in the drug supply networks, however drug trafficking organisations were quick to adapt and the epidemic has not had any significant impact on them, said Uroš Lavrič of the General Police Administration.
Slovenia saw an almost 78% increase in detected drug-related organised crime so far this year compared to the same period last year. Taking into account drug-related offences that were not committed as part of organised crime, the figure stands at 24%.