Montenegro police have arrested people in three cities and filed criminal charges against 11 alleged drug dealers as the result of a seven-month operation dubbed “Zelena milja” (“Green Mile”). The suspects are accused of operating an organized crime group that produced and smuggled marijuana from Albania, through Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), and Croatia.
Police seized 110 kilograms of marijuana and ,suspect that the arrested smuggled an additional 30 kilograms of marijuana throughout the region. The police also seized several handguns, rifles, and bazookas.
This is the latest in a series of Montenegrin attempts to crack down on organized crime with regional partners. On Dec. 26,police arrested 16 suspected members of an international marijuana smuggling ring, seizing 17 kilograms of cannabis. The arrests were part of “Trio,” an operation simultaneously conducted in Montenegro, BiH, and Albania. Begun last June, the operation yielded 350 kilograms of skunk cannabis, along with weapons, vehicles, and suspected drug money.
Montenegro is an important heroin, cannabis and cocaine transit hub on the Balkan Route according to the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs report for 2011.. The report states that only 10-15 percent of the smuggled drugs remain on the Montenegrin market although indications are that the domestic market is growing. Drug-related crimes and reported drug abuse are on the rise, according to the report.
While there is no significant marijuana production in Montenegro, INTERPOL lists neighboring Albania as a significant source of cannabis resin, and large quantities of herbal marijuana were discovered in Macedonia in the recent years.
Montenegro authorities believe that seven or eight major organized crime groups engage in drug trafficking in Montenegro. Some are believed to be involved with an international drug smuggling network covering the Balkans, the Near East, Western Europe, and South America.