Serbia’s police force has uncovered almost four tonnes of marijuana in a raid on a farm owned by one of the country’s largest suppliers of organic food.
Some 650kg of dried cannabis were uncovered in the swoop, along with 65,581 stems of the narcotic plant, totalling 3,954kg of counterfeit produce – one of the biggest hauls in the nation’s history.
Two handguns were also seized at the farm near the northern town of Stara Pazova, along with a fake police ID card and a car bearing police markings.
Nine people have been arrested – including a senior figure from Jovanjica, the firm operating the site, who is suspected of leading an organised criminal group.
The operation became a source of national intrigue as details of the haul slowly emerged, including claims that Serbia’s interior minister had toured the site on a number of occasions.
The seizure also led to suspicion after the government appeared to remain quiet on the scale of the drug bust several days after the operation appeared to have concluded.
Serbia’s deputy speaker Miroslav Aleksic told a press conference that Nebojsa Stefanovic, who oversees the police while serving as deputy prime minister, was “a frequent visitor to Jovanjica” and had not made himself available to “boast of the large seizure”.
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Mr Stefanovic commented publicly on the raid four days after it took place, commending police officers in ongoing narcotic operations in the country.
Responding to public comments, police director Vladimir Rebic accused politicians of “irresponsibility”.