The Interior Ministers of Spain and Serbia strengthen police cooperation between the two countries
The two ministers presented at a press conference the results of Operation Mitikas, which allowed the dismantling of a Serbian organization that trafficked marijuana from Spain thanks to the creation of a Joint Investigation Team (JIT), the first between both countries and the first in the history formed with a non-community country
In Spain, the joint device of the Civil Guard and the Serbian Police Service for the Fight against Organized Crime located twelve 'indoor' marijuana plantations and arrested 31 suspects, while in Serbia five alleged leaders of the organization were arrested
The Interior Ministers of Spain, Fernando Grande-Marlaska, and of the Republic of Serbia, Aleksandar Vulin, met this Thursday in Madrid to analyze the results of Operation Mitikas, a joint investigation carried out by the Civil Guard and the Civil Service. Fight against Organized Crime by the Serbian Police, which has allowed the dismantling of an organization made up of people of Serbian nationality who grew marijuana in Spain, distributed it to various European countries and laundering the profits in the Balkan republic.
At the meeting held at the headquarters of the Ministry of the Interior, Grande-Marlaska was accompanied by the general director of International Relations and Immigration, Elena Garzón, and the general deputy director of International Police Cooperation, Almudena Tudanca.
For his part, Minister Vulin was assisted by his adviser Jasna Popović, the head of the Criminal Police Directorate of the Republic of Serbia, Bogdan Pušić; the liaison officer of the Ministry of the Interior of the Republic of Serbia in Spain, Mladen Nenadić; the Organized Crime Prosecutor, Nikola Railić, and the Ambassador of the Republic of Serbia in Spain, Katarina Lalić-Smajević.
Both delegations have valued the results of Operation Mitikas as very positive because it has allowed the dismantling of a transnational criminal group and because new mechanisms of police and judicial cooperation have been used that have proven their effectiveness. “Police and judicial cooperation with Eastern European countries is a priority for the European Union; for Spain, police cooperation with Serbia is a priority ”, Grande-Marlaska has transferred to his Serbian counterpart.
After the meeting, Ministers Grande-Marlaska and Vulin presented at a press conference the development of Operation Mitikos, an investigation that began in 2019 when the Civil Guard discovered the location of a marijuana plantation in the Los Monegros region ( Huesca) after a fortuitous fire caused by a fraudulent electricity connection.
When the implication of several citizens of Serbian nationality in the events was verified, the investigators requested information from EUROPOL and the Interior Attaché of the Serbian Embassy in Spain, which confirmed that some identities coincided with suspicious persons investigated in the Balkan country for similar events. .
A close channel of collaboration between the Civil Guard and the Service for Combating Organized Crime of the Serbian Police was then created with the support of Europol. In addition, Eurojust conducted a series of coordination meetings between the judicial authorities that in each country were conducting the investigations.
This process allowed the constitution, at the Spanish initiative, of a Joint Investigation Team (JIT), the first created with a non-EU country and also the first in history signed between both countries.
The agreement to create the ECI was formalized on June 25, 2021. Three days later, on June 28, Serbian policemen supported the deployment of the Civil Guard on Spanish soil in the same way that Civil Guards collaborated with their Serbian colleagues in the balkan republic. In addition, the investigations led by the Court of First Instance and Instruction 2 of Huesca and the Office of the Prosecutor for Organized Crime of Serbia can be considered as one, which facilitates direct exchanges of information and validates the evidence obtained in the proceedings. judicial systems of both countries.
The joint police action was activated on June 28 in Spain, mainly in Aragon and Catalonia, and in Serbia, where five people were arrested as organizing leaders of the organized crime group. In the records, more than 150,000 euros in cash have been located, two high-end watches, and more than 100,000 euros of bank accounts and an amount greater than 500,000 euros in other assets have been blocked.
Effects intervened in Serbia:
- 157,000 euros
- Various computing devices
- Mobile phones
- 2 high-end watches
- 1 high-end vehicle
In Spain, researchers have made a total of 19 searches in the provinces of Zaragoza and Tarragona, locating twelve 'indoor' marijuana plantations, one of them hidden in the basement of an Orthodox church in Zaragoza. The operation has allowed the arrest of 31 people, as well as the seizure of narcotic substances, legal tender from several countries and utensils for the elaboration of narcotic substances.
Effects intervened in Spain:
- 14,329 marijuana plants
- 896 grams of chopped marijuana
- 883.5 kilos of marijuana buds
- 311 grams of marijuana
- 47 grams of hashish pollen
- 251 grams of hashish resin
- 93,178 euros
- 1,500 Serbian dinars
- 120 Macedonian dinars
- 11,600 Hungarian forints
- 14 mobile phones
- 2 laptops
- 3 vehicles
- 1 pistol caliber 357 magnum