Kosovo Police on Sunday said they had raided and seized two laboratories containing narcotic plants and a third with sophisticated equipment for narcotics cultivation in three different locations in Serb-run Mitrovica North. Two suspects were arrested while police said investigations are continuing.
“Police arrested two Serbs as suspects while all police actions are being undertaken in coordination with justice institutions,” police said.
In his first comment, Kosovo’s Interior Minister, Xhelal Sveçla, said the owner of one of the laboratories is a person “who attacked the Kosovo police officers last month” and accused him of “being part of gangs who take orders from organised crime in Serbia”.
3rd drug lab destroyed today; narcotics valued at €2.3 million.
Criminal activities in the northern part of our country are carried out by paramilitaries and drug dealers, protected by President Vucic and Petkovic. 1/1 pic.twitter.com/5iLwyx5Zd2
— Xhelal Sveçla (@XSvecla) February 12, 2023
Sveçla later said that in 24 months since he has taken over his post, eight drugs laboratories have been destroyed, including the three seized on Sunday.
“Their owners (…) were all involved in attacks against Kosovo police officers, in setting up barricades and in threats against local Serbs who have refused to cooperate with them,” Sveçla said.
“After the attack on police officers, they were visited [in hospital] by Serbia’s Minister of Defence and [Head of Serbia’s Office for Kosovo, Petar] Petkovic and protected by Srpska Lista and [Milan] Radojicic,” he added.
But Srpska Lista, the Belgrade-backed Kosovo Serb party, disputed Sveçla’s comments, claiming that “he is attempting to make a [false] connection between the arrests [on Sunday] and the attempted murder of Miljan Delevic [one of the owners according to Svecla]”.
On January 23, Kosovo Police stationed at a checkpoint near the northern municipality of Leposavic shot at a vehicle in which there were two Serbs, claiming that the vehicle previously hit a police car, endangering officers’ lives. Delevic was wounded as a consequence.
Police said that the suspects, including Delevic, together with their car, escaped from the scene while “investigations on the case are being conducted in cooperation with justice institutions”.
“Xhelal Svecla’s attempt… is futile, and aims to justify his criminals in special unit uniforms who shot Delevic from the back a couple of weeks ago on Bistrica Bridge, and which are illegally present in northern Kosovo,” Srpska Lista said.
The party said that Svecla tried to give himself “an alibi with today’s action for constant harassment of the Serbian people” and denied claims about links between criminals and Serbian state officials.
“Neither the director of the Office for Kosovo and Metohija, Petar Petkovic, nor [Serbian] President Vucic, nor any representative of Serbian List supports criminal actions of any person – but the illegal activity of one person cannot be an excuse for the illegal actions of Sveçla’s special forces who have been harassing the Serbian people for months in the north of Kosovo and Metohija,” Srpska Lista said.