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Bosnia police arrest 23 suspected of being part of drug kingpin’s ‘inner circle’

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Law enforcement officers in Bosnia have arrested 23 people suspected of belonging to a “global drug kingpin’s inner circle” in a crackdown on criminal networks controlling much of Europe’s cocaine trade, authorities said on Tuesday.

Those detained include police and security officials.

Europol, the European Union’s law enforcement agency, and Bosnian officials said the suspects were arrested on Monday as security forces searched their homes and other locations.

Police seized guns, money, cars, laptops and other evidence during the raids

They are suspected of drug trafficking, money laundering and other organised crime offences, officials said.

Europol said in a statement: “Among the 23 persons arrested yesterday are not only accomplices, but also corrupt officials identified as facilitators of the network’s criminal activities.”

The 23 are suspected of being part of the “inner circle” of a drug kingpin arrested in 2022 and sentenced to seven years in prison a year later in the Netherlands, it said.

Police seized guns, money, cars, laptops and other evidence during the raids.

Bosnian authorities had previously arrested two other people and seized 55,000 euros (£47,400), eight firearms, 11 police radios and money-laundering documentation, Europol said.

It said Monday’s arrests are “another milestone” in the fight against the alliance of criminal networks.

Agents from the US Drug Enforcement Administration and FBI also participated in the operation, it said.

In Bosnia, state security agency SIPA said authorities temporarily froze bank accounts belonging to the suspects and halted any financial transactions.

It said evidence against the group includes encrypted phone conversations.

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