PODGORICA – Montenegrin authorities say they have rearrested the alleged boss of a notorious criminal gang in an operation hailed by officials as a victory for the rule of law in the Balkan country.
Interior Minister Sergej Sekulovic said on April 21 that the alleged kingpin, Slobodan Kascelan, was arrested the previous day on "reasonable suspicion that he organized a criminal group suspected of being created to commit the most serious crimes."
A statement from Sekulovic's ministry said he made the comments during a meeting with the U.S. ambassador to Podgorica.
Montenegro's Deputy Prime Minister Dritan Abazovic described the operation in which Kascelan and others were arrested as the "greatest success" the Montenegrin police force has had in the past decade.
The government that took power in Montenegro after parliamentary elections in August has pledged to root out endemic crime and corruption in the Adriatic state -- one of the main drug-smuggling transit routes for Western European markets.
Kascelan, 58, was arrested in Montenegro in 2019, on charges of attempted murder, the creation of a criminal organization, and loan sharking, but was released on $600,000 bail.
He is the alleged leader of the so-called Kavac drug gang, which has been involved in a six-year war with a rival Montenegrin gang in which dozens of people have reportedly been killed.
The two clans, both from the Montenegrin seaside resort town of Kotor, have launched deadly attacks against each other in Montenegro, neighboring Serbia, and Bosnia-Herzegovina, as well as in Greece, Spain, and Italy.
Earlier on April 21, police announced that "several people" had been arrested in an operation targeting criminal groups, and that the operation was under way.
The short Twitter post did not provide further details, but it included a video clip showing the arrest of three people by the Special Police Unit.
The Interior Ministry congratulated the police force, saying that the "decisive fight against organized crime and corruption is a priority."