Former Justice Ministry official says EUROPOL some months ago warned the government that it believed three Montenegrin police officers had more than 50 million euros each in their bank accounts – earned from assisting notorious drug gangs.

Montenegro Govt Ignored Warnings About Police Ties to Drug Gangs

EUROPOL headquarters in the Hague, Netherlands. Photo: EPA-EFE/JERRY LAMPEN

Former general secretary of the Montenegrin Ministry of Justice Andrej Milovic said on Thursday that international partners had warned the government that three police officers had more than 50 million euros each in their bank accounts.

Milovic said this startling info was presented to the former government at an official meeting but did not name the three officers or their ranks.

“Less than two months ago, partner services from abroad at a meeting with the government pointed out that they had identified three police officers whose accounts have over 50 million [euros in them, each],” Milovic told the newspaper Vijesti.

Citing the European police agency EUROPOL report to the Montenegrin government, news portal Libertas Press on May 3 named two senior police officers, Petar Lazovic and Ljubo Milovic, who were allegedly tied to the notorious Kavac gang, a group of drug smugglers from the town of Kotor, providing them official protection for their drug, arms and tobacco smuggling.

Lazovic is also a National Security Agency officer and son of former senior police officer Zoran Lazovic, who was dismissed last March after the authorities accused him of having ties to criminal groups.

According to the EUROPOL report, Lazovic and Milovic were in direct communication with one of the Kavac gang leaders, Radoje Zvicer, and with Veljko Belivuk, alleged leader of a violent Serbian crime gang, who was arrested in February 2021.

“Lazovic and Milovic provided protection to the Kavac clan and informed them about sensitive operational data from the police … The assumption is that Milovic has an unknown bank account with 48 million euros in it, earned from cocaine smuggling,” Libertas Press cited the EUROPOL report as saying.

On Wednesday, the Police Directorate said it had not been informed about the EUROPOL report, while Special State Prosecutor, Vladimir Novovic, relaunched an aborted investigation into Lazovic and Milovic, which it was closed on January 20 by the former Special State Prosecution Office.

The State Prosecution confirmed that EUROPOL sent transcripts of the encrypted messages to the Montenegrin prosecution last July.

On Wednesday, former Special State Prosecutor Milivoje Katnic said the investigation into the two men was closed because Lazovic was informing his superiors in the police about Kavac drug gang operations.

“There was no reason to initiate criminal proceedings against Petar Lazovic because he acted in accordance with the law and informed his superiors about all [their] actions, which contributed to discovering the perpetrators of serious crimes,” Katnic said. “Police never arrested their own agents. At least not until now,” he added.

Last October, the Special State Prosecution filed an indictment against Slobodan Kascelan, the alleged kingpin of the Kavac gang, Radoje Zvicer and 12 others, accusing them of creating a criminal organization responsible for the aggravated murder of Nikola Stanisic.

The gang has been involved for years in a war with the rival Skaljari gang, also from Kotor. At least 40 people have been killed in Montenegro, Serbia, Austria and Greece in this conflict.

The two gangs take their names from neighbourhoods of Kotor, a medieval town of some 20,000 inhabitants in Montenegro’s Boka Bay. The conflict started in 2015 after 300 kilos of cocaine vanished from an apartment in Valencia, Spain, in 2014.

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