The recent seizure of 250 kilograms of cocaine in Bar shows that the country is serious about beating crime and corruption.
By Drazen Remikovic for Southeast European Times in Montenegro -- 24/06/14
Customs officials discovered the cocaine in the false floor of the shipping container. [Montenegro Customs Administration]
Officials are calling a police operation this month at the port of Bar in Montenegro a significant action against organised crime and narcotics trafficking in the region.
On June 6th customs officers seized 250 kilograms of cocaine smuggled beneath a shipment of bananas. The shipment, which was sent by Vimtcorp Company in Ecuador, was destined for Rrapo Company in Albania. "Officers used the specialised tools for detecting narcotics and noticed that the floor of the container was a special compartment packed with 223 packages of cocaine. Police are conducting further actions in co-ordination with the prosecutor's office," Vladan Jokovic, director of Montenegro's Custom Administration, told SETimes.
Police said the destination of the drugs was France or Italy, and the traffickers had planned to leave the goods in Albania and return the empty containers to their destination, trying to erase all the tracks.
"This seizure is a good example of the government recognising the priorities that must be undertaken by the state. It is time for the authorities to show specific willingness and to do things like this seizure because the EU will closely follow the field of combating crime until the end of accession negotiations," Genci Nimanbegu, member of the parliament committee for European integration, told SETimes.
Montenegrin Interior Minister Rasko Konjevic said the drug seizure provided evidence that the country is increasing its fight against organised crime.
The operation is particularly significant as NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said earlier this year that Montenegro needs to improve its efforts against organised crime to become a member of the Alliance.
''Countries wishing to join NATO must prove that they are implementing reforms and that they are responsible and decisive in solving old problems," Rasmussen said.
Experts said regional co-operation is crucial for breaking transit routes.
Marko Nicovic, a member of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, noted the case of Darko Saric, a Montenegrin who is charged with smuggling of more than five tonnes of cocaine from South America to Europe. He was on the run for five years before being arrested in March.
"The Serbian and Montenegrin police formed a common investigative team, and their co-operation resulted in Saric's arrest. Such actions are good for police, for citizens, for regional security. It is a confirmation that the professional approach by the security information agencies can give results," Nicovic told SETimes.
What other measures can Montenegro and the region take to stop organised crime? Tell us what you think.