|Kotor. Photo: Wikipedia/ Ronnie Pander.|
In the latest violence related to drug clans clashes in the Montenegrin resort of Kotor, a jailed alleged drugs gang member was killed by an unknown sniper while outdoors in the yard of the high security state prison in Podgorica on Thursday evening.
Police blocked the street surrounding the Spuz prison and raided the area to try to locate the assassin, but only found a car set on fire near the prison.
Police confirmed that the victim was Dalibor Djuric, believed to be a boss of the Skaralji clan in Kotor, a resort town plagued by gang violence in recent months.
“After the shooting, the prison management informed the police and the competent Prosecutor’s Office, which has launched an investigation,” the Prison Administration said.
Djuric had been in jail since October 2014 after being guilty of extortion. He was accused of various other drug-related crimes and even killings in both Serbia and Montenegro but those charges were never proved in court.
During his trial in Kotor in 2014, both Djuric and the police officers who were escorting him were placed under increased security because of fears that he might be targeted while coming to and from the courthouse.
The prison yard assassination is the third drugs-related killing in a few months, after a bomb blast killed two alleged members of drug gangs in September,.
Calls are growing for the Montenegrin authorities to do more to stop the continuing violence in the town.
Five people have been killed since early 2015 in aparent clashes between the rival Skaljari and Kavac clans, named after neighbourhoods in Kotor.
In an interview with BIRN, Goran Danilovic, Montenegro’s Interior Minister, said gang violence in Kotor had worsened because the criminals enjoyed support from certain state structures.
He said organized crime could only be overcome by an organized response from the state – but complained that the response to the problem had been “poor”.
A decade ago, it emerged that the Balkan drug kingpin Darko Saric had begun to invest huge sums of money in Kotor, mostly in the tourism sector.
The first shootouts occurred in Kotor in 2008. Two years later, one of Saric’s closest associates, Zoran FricDudic, was shot dead on the main square in daylight.
In a first-instance verdict in July 2015, the Special Court for Organised Crime in Belgrade jailed Saric for 20 years for smuggling cocaine from Latin America.
The court also convicted around 30 other defendants, 14 of whom are still on the run, for smuggling more than five tons of cocaine from South America in 2008 and 2009, giving them jail sentences of five months to 20 years.