assassinated | 

Boss of notorious drug gang involved in feud that killed 40 people is shot dead in car

Jovan Vukotic

Neil FetherstonhaughSunday World

The notorious leader of a European drug gang that has been involved in deadly feud that has claimed the lives of more than 40 people was shot dead in Turkey, it has been reported.

Jovan Vukotic, the alleged head of the notorious Skaljari drug gang, was killed by an assassin on a motorcycle while he was sitting in a car with his wife and daughter.

Vukotic (42) is listed in Montenegro police records and security documents as one of the leaders of the drug gang based in the town of Kotor.

The Skaljari gang has been involved in a six-year war with the rival Kavac gang, also from Kotor that has led to the deaths of at least 40 people in Montenegro, Serbia, Austria and Greece.

Both gangs take their names from neighbourhoods of Kotor, a medieval town of some 20,000 inhabitants in Montenegro’s Boka Bay.

The conflict started in 2015, after 300 kilos of cocaine vanished from an apartment in Valencia, Spain, in 2014.

One of the victims of the six-year drug gang war was Vukotic’s own father, Veselin, who was killed in Kotor in March 2019.

In 2018, Vukotic was arrested in Turkey and extradited to Serbia, where the High Court in Belgrade sentenced him to 15 months in prison for using a forged Macedonian passport.

In February 2020, he was extradited to Montenegro, where he was charged with the attempted murder of Kavac gang members.

The media reported that rival gang members tried to kill Vukotic while he was in prison in Montenegro, following extradition from Serbia.

But in July that year the Higher Court in Podgorica dropped the charges and he was released.

In December 2020, the Special State Prosecution charged Vukotic with creating a criminal organisation and with preparing the murder of three members of the rival Kavac drug gang.

According to the prosecution, Vukotic planned to kill Slobodan Kascelan, alleged kingpin of the Kavac gang, and Veljko Belivuk and Marko Miljkovic, heads of a notorious other gang from Serbia.

Vukotic was charged as a result of evidence obtained from Sky ECC communications, obtained and passed on by French and Dutch police, about crimes involving drug trafficking, murder and kidnapping.

Local media reported on Thursday that Vukotic had been killed but Montenegrin police warned that Vukotic’s death has not been officially confirmed.

“Montenegrin services are trying to get information and confirmation from colleagues in Turkey. However, the procedure is slow,” the Police Directorate told radio Antena M.

Vukotic was on the run after Montenegrin judicial authorities in September last year issued a warrant for his arrest.

Organised crime has deep roots in Montenegro, a former Yugoslav republic of some 630,000 people that for years has served as a transit point for illicit cigarettes and drugs.

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