Special report: How Balkan gangsters became Europe’s top cocaine suppliers

A view of some of the 18 metric tonnes of cocaine seized by US authorities from the cargo ship MSC Gayane in Philadelphia on June, 17, 2019. [US Customs and Border Protection via Reuters]

In 2018, convicted cocaine trafficker Slobodan Kostovski fled a Brazilian prison and made his way back to Europe with a fake passport.

The Serbian senior quickly fell into old habits, police allege. Last August, Kostovski was arrested in Belgrade, accused of shipping 2.7 metric tonnes of cocaine from Brazil aboard a 22-meter vessel apprehended near Spain's Canary Islands.

Nicknamed "the General" by his associates, he had been trafficking "large amounts" of powder to "Europe for a long period of time," Serbian police wrote in a 2022 intelligence report obtained exclusively by Reuters. Kostovski, now 70, had lived in Brazil for years. It's a perch that allowed him to forge strong ties with cocaine producers in neighboring Colombia, Bolivia and Peru, and arrange ocean transport of the drugs to Europe, according to the Serbian document.

Kostovski, who has yet to...

Continue reading on: