The officers were charged for taking payments, including drugs, firearms and explosives—ostensibly in return for protection from prosecution or arrest.
The arrested include a police officer, two officers from the Serbian Gendarmerie and also an officer from the International Operative Cooperation Department.
Yet as worrying as this seems, the news probably comes with a sigh of relief from the Serbian government and President Aleksandar Vucic. For decades Serbia was dogged by not only organized crime, but also gang warfare, and although much of this has receded, cartel-narco gangs reared their ugly heads only last year when it was alleged that the long-running war between the Montenegrin Kavac and Skaljari gangs had bled—literally—into Serbia.
This culminated in accusations that a special Serbian law enforcement team, the Mangusta, group, had actually become infiltrated and had served, allegedly, the interests of the Kavac gang. Further allegations went so far as to accuse persons linked to Mangusta as having run surveillance on Vucic himself.
The scandal resulted in the arrest of Diana H., a former police officer, media darling and at the time Ministry of the Interior official–and a clampdown on gang activity and corruption has been ongoing ever since. That said, there is as yet no information as to whether the recent arrests were linked to previous investigations linked to the Kavac-Skaljari war or Mangusta.
Photo credit: Srđan Popović, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons