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Serbian Organized Crime, also known as the Serbian Mafia and Naša Stvar (Cosa Nostra) are general terms used to describe various criminal organizations based in Serbiamarker or composed of ethnic-Serbs. Serbian criminals are active in the European Union (EU) countries and sometimes in United States of Americamarker. The Serbian mafia is primarily involved in smuggling, the arms trafficking, drug trafficking, protection racket, illegal gambling, jewelry and gems theft, bodyguarding, and contract killing.

Involvement in Serbia

The Mafia in Serbia is composed of 3 major groups, the Voždovacmarker, Surčinmarker and Zemunmarker clans. These three clanshave control over wide networks of smaller groups.

During the period that started with the Yugoslav wars and ended with the assassination of Prime Minister Zoran Đinđić in March 2003, connections between the mafia and the government were obvious and corruption was rampant in most branches of the government, from border patrols to law-enforcement agencies. After Slobodan Milošević was ousted in the October 2000 Bulldozer Revolution, organized crime in Serbia became less obvious, but remained in the background during the political transition. However, a bloody feud soon emerged amongst the different clans. The feud grew into an open war in which many of the mafia bosses were assassinated. In 2003, shortly after Đinđić's assassination, the government set in motion a major anti-mafia operation - "Operation Sablja" (English: Sabre), which led to many arrests, eliminations and exile of mafia members.

In January, 2009, Serbian Interior Minister Ivica Dacic estimated some 30 to 40 serious organized crime groups operating in Serbia. The figures does not include smaller size criminal groups but more organized, involved in drug trafficking and arms trafficking, human trafficking, murder and larger robberies.

Involvement in Belgrade

Leading members

The reign of Slobodan Milosevic represented the height of power of Serbian Organized Crime, when mafiosos and government officials were intertwined. The role of these individuals was reported in the documentary film "Vidimo se u čitulji" "See you in the obituaries".

Some of the key Organized Crime players during this period were:


Murders committed by the Serbian mafia:

  • Aleksandar Knežević "Knele", the youngest "star" of the Serbian mafia at the beginning of the 1990s, he was close to the authorities. Knežević was murdered on October 28, 1992 in his room at the "Hyatt" hotel in Belgrade.
  • Georg Stanković "Žorž", one of the infamous mob bosses of the older generation. He was murdered on October 1, 1993 by a sole hitman.
  • Mihajlo Divac, leader of the Novi Beogradmarker gang at time, he had previously survived a number of murder attempts. Divac was gunned down in the hall of the Hotel "Putnik", in Belgrade in 1995.
  • Božidar Stanković "Batica", Georg Stanković's son, he was murdered on June 23, 1996 by a sole hitman.
  • Zoran Dimitrov "Žuća", one of the Voždovacmarker gang members, who had priorly survived a number of assassination attempts, was killed on October 6, 1996 by a sole hitman.
  • Rade Ćaldović "Ćenta", the infamous Belgrademarker mafioso, was murdered on February 14, 1997 in his car in Belgrademarker by two assassins.
  • Radovan Stojičić "Badža", a police chief killed on 10 April 1997 in the pizza parlour "Mama Mia" in Belgrade by a sole hitman.
  • Zoran Todorović "Kundak" was killed on 24 October 1997.
  • Jusuf Bulić "Jusa", one of Arkan's closest lieutenants, was killed in 1998.
  • Darko Ašanin was Belgrade gangster involved with drugs and killings. His uncle was Pavle Bulatović, the late Defense Minister. Murdered on June 30, 1998, in his cafe "Koloseum" inDedinje by a sole hitman.
  • Zoran Šijan, the boss of the "Surčin" gang, killed on 27 November 1999.
  • Željko Ražnatović "Arkan", assassinated January 15, 2000.
  • Radoslav Trlajić "Bata Trlaja", a Belgrade mob boss and a member of the Novi Beogradmarker gang. He was famous for referring to Serbia and Belgrade in the nineties as "a pond too small for so many crocodiles". He was murdered on February 26, 2000 by Mile Luković of the Zemunmarker gang.
  • Zoran Davidović "Ćanda" was murdered while returning from the funeral of Branislav Lainović on March 23, 2000 by the Zemun clan.
  • Zoran Uskoković "Skole", a Belgrade businessman, was murdered on April 27, 2000 by the members of the Zemun clan.
  • The deputy chief of the State Security Service in Belgrade (retired) Momir Gavrilović, was killed by Milorad Ulemek "Legija" and the Zemun clan in an attempt to damage Zoran Đinđić's administration by convincing the public that he was killed for delivering "evidence" of government ties with the criminals. Sretko Kalinić's, the number one hitman of the Zemun clan, DNA was found on the murder spot.
Zvezdan Jovanović was asked to carry out the assassination.
  • Smail Taric,was beheaded because of his connections with the police by two members of the Beran Clan, Velibor Brkic and Milos Rasic.

Novi Sad

Activity abroad


On October 27, 1978 Veljko Krivokapić secretly met with Ljubomir Magaš, a member of the gang he had just left, at the Zur Hauptpost coffee house in Viennamarker. Magaš and another Yugoslav, Rade Caldović, grabbed Krivokapić and fractured his skull with a glass bottle.

Involvement with Corsican gangsters in late 1960s.


Zemun clan member Nenad Milenkovic Milenko was arrested in 2003 at the Varna resort, following the international warrant by the Serbian police after Operation Sablja. He was suspected of orchestrating at least 3 murders in Bulgaria and some 20 in Serbia. His then 6 month son was wounded in a shootout in Sofia in July, 2007.


The murder of Croatian publisher and founder of weekly "Nacional" Ivo Pukanic in 2008 was ordered by Sreten Jocic who hired Zeljko Milovanovic, a former Red Berets member who bombed the car of the publisher with the help of Milenko Kuzmanovic. All three were arrested by the Serbian police.


The Serbian-Danish actor Slavko Labovic, who played Radovan in the movie Pusher, was a good friend of Arkan and was arrested, along with his brother, for possession of illegal arms. The Serbian Brotherhood or in Serbian "Srpsko Bratstvo" is believed to be the top crime organisation in Copenhagen.


One of the most well known Serbian criminal groups operating in France is the Pink Panthers, a group that focuses on jewelry and gems theft. In October 2008, police officials in Monacomarker arrested two members of the gang, a Serb and a Bosnian Serb. The gang is suspected of jewelry and gems theft at Harry Winston for an estimated value of up to 80 million Euros or 105 million US dollars.


Known in German as the German: Serbische Mafia, Jugoslawische Mafia.

  • Ljubomir Magaš "Ljuba Zemunac" ("Ljuba from Zemun"), "The Godfather", is considered as the ultimate boss of the Serbian mafia at the time. He was killed by two shots to the heart from close range in front of the courthouse in Frankfurtmarker, Germanymarker in 1986 by Goran Vuković "Majmun".
  • Goran Vuković "Majmun" ("Monkey"), who is most famous for killing Ljubomir Magaš, survived five murder attempts following the killing of Ljubomir Magaš before he was assassinated in downtown Belgrade in broad daylight in 1994. He was a member of the Vozdovac clan.

Andrija Draskovic, an heir to Arkan's Serbian mafia, was arrested in Frankfurt after four years on the run from the Italian Anti-Organized Crime Unit.


  • Stanislava Poletan, married to Ranko Poletan, the former commander of the Serbian Volunteer Guard (Arkan's tigers), was suspected of having orchestrated the transport of 486 kilos of cocaine seized at Blace. She is now likely hiding in Serbia.

  • Kosta Jankovski: Head of the Macedonian arm of the Serbianmarker mafia.

  • Zoran Boyadjiski, involved in drug trafficking in Germany, Bulgaria under the Zemun clan.


There has been a number of unsolved murder cases in Amsterdammarker that have been linked to the activities of Serbian Organized Crime gangs. In recent years the Serbian mafia has been growing strong in the Netherlandsmarker.

  • Sreten Jocić ("Joca Amsterdam"), is a hitman and a drug dealer. He is considered to be the leader for the Serbian mafia in Amsterdam.


Non-Norwegian gangs and Organized Crime groups came to dominate Norway's drug trade in the 1980s. During the 1990s Norway saw a large influx of Yugoslavs seeking refugee status due to the conflict in the Balkan region. Currently Yugoslav groups are some of the most dominant and notorious criminal organisations in Norway.


Known in Swedish as: Jugoslaviska maffian, Serbiska maffian, Juggemaffian.

The Serbian mafia in Sweden was said to be the top criminal organisation, but its influence has declined since the deaths of several leading figures.

A war was fought over the control of the trade of narcotics and cigarettes between Serbian Organized Crime leaders which resulted in Jokso and Ratko Djokic's deaths.

Individuals associated to Serbian Organized Crime in Sweden:

  • Ratko Đokić "The Godfather", arms dealer and cigarette smuggler, he was murdered May 5, 2003 by Serbian hitmen hired by Rade Kotur, another notorious Serbian criminal.

  • Dragan "Jokso" Joksović, notorious gambler and assumed cigarette smuggler, was murdered February 4, 1998 in Solvallamarker, Stockholmmarker by a Finnish hitman hired by "Kova". He was a close friend of Arkan and is said to have helped Arkan on many occasions. Arkan and many other known mafia figures attended his funeral. As revenge, "Kova" was later killed in front of 60 guests at the order of Arkan.

  • Milan Ševo, declared to be the latest "Head of Serbian mafia" in Sweden has survived many murder attempts and even escaped from a prison. He is married to Ratko Djokic's daughter. It is believed that he has connections with Swedish Hells Angels MC.

One of the chapters in the "Svensk Maffia" (Swedish Mafia) -book follows the history of the Serbian mafia from the 60's and modern time.

United Kingdom

In June 2, 2009, six Serbs were convicted together with several Israelis for their role in a major smuggling of 12.5 ton (£36m) marijuana, orchestrated by the Israeli mafia. The marijuana was seized on a tugboat under an Israeli flag.

United States

There has been known involvement of Albanians, Croats, Serbs and Bosnian crime groups in the United States. One of the most notorious Serb leaders was Bosko Radonjich, leader of the Irish-American organized crime group "the Westies", from 1988-1992.

In popular culture

The Serbian Mafia has appeared in a number of films and video games. Serbian gangsters in movies are often depicted as tall, muscular, wearing large gold chains and leather jackets. They have hot tempers and are depicted as cold blooded murderers. They have appeared in:


Further reading

Glenny, M. (2008). McMafia: A Journey Through the Global Criminal Underworld

External links

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