Drug offences

Offences

• Distribution/delivery/dispatch/ transport
• Importation/exportation

Substances Involved

• cocaine

Participation in an organized criminal group

Offences

• Agreement to commit a serious crime (conspiracy)

Trafficking in firearms

Offences

• Illicit manufacturing (Article 3(d))
• Illicit trafficking (Article 3(e))

Item Types

• firearms (Article 3(a))

Other Crimes

Details:

Extortion, Illegal Possession of Firearms and Explosives, Instigation of a Murder, Accessory after the Fact, Counterfeiting Documents.

 

OPERATION "VALTER"

UNODC No.:
SRBx002

Fact Summary

Date of Offending:
2013 - 2013

Organized criminal group (OCG) consisted of 21 members, citizens of the Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro, operating on the territories of Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Croatia. Five citizens of the Republic of Serbia and one citizen of the Montenegro were included in criminal charges of Serbian authorities; others were prosecuted by the competent authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Two criminal proceedings were conducted simultaneously and in coordination of authorities of both countries.

OCG was dealing predominantly with drug trafficking and extortions on the territories of Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Croatia. The leader of the OCG, Serbian citizen, was performing his activities, managing the whole OCG business from territory of Republic of Serbia, but no drugs was seized in the territory of Serbia. He had direct contacts with his partners and group members in Montenegro who send the drug to OCG members in Bosnia and Herzegovina. They were distributing and selling drugs in Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well in Croatia. The OCG also had good connections in the local police, therefore some of the defendants prosecuted in Bosnia and Herzegovina were police officers. Group had pyramidal hierarchical structure with clear roles of every member of the group and strict, almost military way of command. The leader of the group communicated with the limited number of members and other members were only communicating with their superiors by using large number of mobile phone numbers called specials. This group formed specific cells in order to perform specific activities i.e. to commit particular criminal offences. OCG was involved in buying, trafficking and distribution of cocaine, purchasing of bombs and explosive devices, vehicles, mobile phones etc.

The group planned to commit a murder of six persons, robbery and trafficking of large amount of cocaine to Serbia, which was prevented by starting this police operation and arrest of the leader and OCG members.

At the end of 2008, Serbian police intensively collected intelligence on OCG which was suspected for preparation of several criminal offences – robbery, extortion, kidnapping, murder and drug trafficking on the territories of Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. In February 2009 in close cooperation with Prosecutor’s Office for Organized Crime operation “Valter” was initiated. Contacts with the competent authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina were made soon and exchange of data and information on OCG activities was initiated.

The fact that leader of OCG was situated in Serbia managing the whole OCG business from Serbian territory was of particular interest for Serbian law enforcement agencies. He had direct contacts with the members or associates of the OCG in Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina. He was planning a murder of six persons on the territories of Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro, robbery of the service for money transfer, as well as illegal production, keeping and circulation of a large amount of cocaine from Columbia to Serbia and Western Europe. Members of the OCG operated on the territories of Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Croatia committing or planning to commit serious crimes.

These criminal offences were prevented by prompt and coordinated action of law enforcement agencies from Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina (on which territories members of the OCG were situated).

Commentary and Significant Features

Significance of the case:

The case is related to organized criminal group operating in four countries in the region of Western Balkans dealing with the most serious crimes – drug trafficking, extortions, robberies, kidnapping and attempts for murder. This group was seen as a one of the most organized and serious criminal groups in this area which members were located and operating in few countries.

Therefore, simultaneous and coordinated action of the law enforcement agencies of two countries (in which the most of OCG members were situated) was the only possible way for prosecution of this OCG. The very intensive international cooperation was continued during the judicial investigations, financial investigation, as well as during trials in both countries and resulted by conviction.

Lessons learned:

Similar social and legal environment in countries affected by the operations of this OCG enabled very close cooperation in prosecution of the criminal group – subject of this case. Legal systems of Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina have the same origin – legal system of the former SFR Yugoslavia, therefore are very similar in terms of criminalization, use of evidences, criminal procedures, investigative techniques, etc. which accelerated the process. There was no language barrier either for criminals or for state authorities and this can be treated in certain aspects as advantage as well as a challenge in other. Efficient, prompt and coordinated actions of the state authorities from all countries affected by the activities of the particular OCG are the only way to successfully tackle organized crime.

Keywords

Protocol against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms:
Article 5 Criminalization
Organized Crime Convention:
Article 5 UNTOC

Cross Cutting

Liability

... based on

• criminal intention

... as involves

• principal offender(s)
• organiser/director

Application of the Convention

Details

• involved an organized criminal group (Article 2(a) CTOC)
• occurred across one (or more) international borders (transnationally)

Involved Countries

Montenegro

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Croatia

Serbia

Investigation

Involved Agencies

• LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES OF REPUBLIC OF SERBIA ENGAGED IN THE OPERATION: 1. Criminal Police - Service for Combating Organized Crime/Department for Suppression of General Organized Crime and Financial Investigations Unit/ 2. Prosecutor’s Office for Organized Crime 3. Higher Court in Belgrade - Special Department for Organized Crime
• LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES OF BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA: 1. State Investigation and Protection Agency (SIPA) 2. Ministry of Interior of Republika Srpska and Ministry of Interior of Federation B&H 3. Prosecutor’s Office of the B&H

Details

• Special investigative techniques
• electronic or other forms of surveillance
Comments:

In this case were used supervision and recording of phone and other communications as well as optical recording of persons. This special investigative technique was applied according to the Article 504 of the CPC (see more in the Section 5.) Five persons were under surveillance and 51 orders for interception and supervision of phone communication of members of the OCG was issued by Investigative judge, with more than 200 telephone numbers which were under interception during the course of investigation.

 

Confiscation & Seizure

Seized Property:

5 apartments of estimated total value of 435.000 euro and 6 vehicles.

Legal basis of confiscation : Law on Seizure and Confiscation of Proceeds from Crime within financial investigation (Chapter V, art. 50 – 61)

 

International Cooperation

Involved Countries

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Serbia

Legal Basis

Bilateral Treaties

• Bilateral Protocol on Agreement in Exercising and Improving International Cooperation in fight against all forms of serious crime, especially organized crime, illegal trade of narcotics, trafficking in human beings, weapons, corruption, money laundering, international terrorism, war crimes and similar issues of mutual interest between Republic Public Prosecutor’s Office of Serbia and Prosecutor’s Office of Bosnia and Herzegovina

Multilateral Treaties

• European Convention on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters 2nd Additional Protocol to the European Convention on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters

Measures

• Mutual legal assistance
• International cooperation for confiscation/asset recovery
• International law enforcement cooperation (including INTERPOL)
Outline:

Cooperation with responsible authorities of the Bosnia and Herzegovina was established in early stage of the case. This cooperation was based on international legal instruments, bilateral agreement and domestic laws on mutual legal assistance in criminal maters.

Cooperation was mostly direct and consisted of exchange of information, examining witnesses, providing evidences and evidence materials (audio, video materials, transcripts of intercepted communication…), obtaining documentation from crime scene, expert witnesses' analyses, assistance in financial investigation, etc. Mutual legal assistance was carried out through official channels of communication i.e. via Ministry of Justice as well.

No JITs were established, but investigations were led in parallel and cooperation was very intensive and carried out on daily basis. Actions of responsible authorities of both countries were coordinated and performed simultaneously (when possible).

 

Procedural Information

Legal System:
Civil Law
 
Proceeding #1:
  • Stage:
    first trial
  • Official Case Reference:
    Case no. K.Po.1. 235/10
  • Decision Date:
    26 November 2010

    Court

    Court Title:
    Visi Sud Beograd
    Belgrade Higher Court - Special Department for Organized Crime
     

    Location

  • City/Town:
    Belgrade
  • Province:
    Serbia
  • • Criminal
    Description:

    Five citizens of the Republic of Serbia and one citizen of the Montenegro were included in criminal charges of Serbian authorities; others were prosecuted by the competent authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Two criminal proceedings were conducted simultaneously and in coordination of authorities of both countries.

    Prosecutor’s Office for Organized Crime of Serbia submitted Request for investigation to the Investigative judge of the Special Department for Organized Crime of Belgrade High Court who opened judicial investigation on September 2nd, 2009. The indictment was raised on November 26th, 2009. The trial started soon after and first instance judgment was made on November 26, 2010, a year after the indictment was raised.

     

    Outcome

  • Verdict:
    Guilty
  • Sentences

    Sentence

    Term of Imprisonment:
    9 years
     
  • Decision Appealed:
    Yes
  • Proceeding #2:
  • Stage:
    appeal
  • Official Case Reference:
    Case no. KZ.Po.1. 7/11
  • Decision Date:
    10 June 2011

    Court

    Court Title:
    Apelacioni Sud Beograd
    Appellate Court in Belgrade
     

    Location

  • City/Town:
    Belgrade
  • Province:
    Serbia
  • • Other
    Description:

    All parties filed complaints on length of sentence before the Court of Appeal. Final judgment was reached on June 10th, 2011. The Court of Appeal rejected appeals as unfounded and upholded the first-instance judgment.

     

    Outcome

  • Verdict:
    Guilty
  • Sentences

    Sentence

    Term of Imprisonment:
    9 years
     

    Victims / Witnesses Summary

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