Serbian reports of organised crime syndicate cracked in Joburg are 'fake news' - SAPS

(iStock)
(iStock)

The SA Police Service says reports in Serbia and Montenegro that an international organised crime syndicate had been arrested in Johannesburg, are fake news.

Several reports in the eastern European countries over the past few days have detailed how as many as 20 members of the group, that are allegedly involved in cocaine trafficking, were arrested by police here.

It's also been reported that the syndicate is strongly linked to murdered contract agent George Darmanovic, who had worked for the SA State Security Agency.

Darmanovic was killed in New Belgrade last year. He was a key player in the underworld in SA, and was deeply connected in intelligence networks.   

Two Montenegrins hiding in Joburg

The reports quote one of the arrested Montenegrins as admitting to being part of this criminal grouping and revealing the identity of his alleged bosses, who hail from Montenegro's capital Podgorica.

"Police in Johannesburg broke the international drug smuggling chain a few days ago, and one of the arrested Montenegrin citizens revealed that Mihailo Pavicevic from Podgorica and Matija Kascelan from Kotor were allegedly behind (sic). They are being tracked, but are believed to be still hiding in Johannesburg," reads the report, translated from Serbian. 

"The identity of the 20 arrested has not been disclosed, but the two fugitives are said to be in their 40s and have lived in Johannesburg for some time. They had a registered import and export company," it continues. 

It said it was believed that the twenty were sailors who were recruited from the Balkans to transport cocaine to Europe. 

'Fake news'

Police spokesperson Brigadier Vish Naidoo said that the reports amounted to fake news. No arrests of this nature had taken place. 

Sources in the Hawks and Crime Intelligence also knew nothing about this alleged breakthrough, suggesting it never occurred. 

Over the past two years there has been a spate of apparent hits in Johannesburg involving Serbians linked to organised crime syndicates. 

The attacks have been brazen, all taking place in broad daylight. In most cases, the hitmen, riding motorbikes, used semi-automatic weapons and appeared to have had military training. 

To date, no arrests or prosecutions have been made but police have established a task team to get to the bottom of the murders.

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