Koper police bust two international criminal gangs

Koper – In cooperation with the Italian authorities, the Koper police dismantled two internationally-organised criminal gangs involved in smuggling and trafficking large quantities of illegal drugs. They arrested eleven suspects and seized several kilograms of cocaine and cannabis and over EUR 60,000 in cash, the Koper Police Department said.

The pre-trial proceedings in the first investigation were run by Slovenian and Italian prosecutors, as well as prosecutors from the European Judicial Network. They set up a joint investigation team to investigate the case.

The team gathered evidence that a drug ring led by an Albanian national in Europe was smuggling large quantities of cocaine from South America to European countries. The ringleader was murdered in a restaurant in South America in early 2022.

In Slovenia, the ringleader was helped by another Albanian who was in prison and his partner who is from the Izola area. She was responsible for logistical support and procurement of vehicles with Slovenian licence plates.

The vehicles were converted by a criminal organisation in the Netherlands to provide secret compartments for drug smuggling. The ring supplied some of the drugs to Slovenia, with a Slovenian national playing a key role in this part of their operation.

Using undercover investigative measures, criminal investigators gathered evidence against 21 suspects who allegedly committed a total of 179 offences of illicit drug production and trafficking, including seven who were apprehended in Slovenia, some of whom had already been tried for such offences. All but one who was already in prison were put in detention.

Under the first investigation, which wrapped up in early April, the Slovenian police seized various illicit drugs, including 2,300 grams of cocaine, 1,100 grams of cannabis and hashish, and EUR 30,000 in cash. In Italy, the figures were significantly bigger – more than 80 kilograms of cocaine and seven kilograms of cannabis, valued at EUR 4.5 million.

The Koper police further uncovered that another criminal group was operating in the coastal area of Slovenia and occasionally worked with the gang whose members were arrested in April. The second group also supplied customers from Slovenia and Italy.

Criminal investigators collected evidence against eleven suspects who allegedly committed a total of 96 offences of illicit drug production and trafficking. In addition, three other suspects were accused of extortion.

The investigation was concluded this week when four suspects were arrested, all of them Slovenian nationals from the coastal area. Three of them were detained and one was placed under house arrest.

The police seized various illicit drugs, including 2,080 grams of cocaine, 1,150 grams of cannabis, and EUR 35,000 in cash.