The former head of Montenegro’s Customs Office, Rade Milosevic, was arrested by authorities on Wednesday night for allegedly creating a criminal organization involved in tobacco theft.
His arrest came off the orders of the Special State Prosecutor’s Office.
“Milosevic is suspected of the criminal offense of creating a criminal organization,” said the Special State Prosecutor’s Office spokesperson, Vukas Radonjic.
“At the request of the Special State Prosecutor’s Office, the court issued orders to search apartments and other premises used by Rade Milosevic in the towns of Niksic and Podgorica,” he continued.
Milosevic left his post on 5 October after the Special State Prosecution launched an investigation into tobacco theft in Montenegro’s second largest city of Niksic. Just days earlier, police had questioned him in the wake of one million euros’ worth of tobacco being stolen from a Niksic factory.
The tobacco stored there was originally destined to be destroyed.
The Special State Prosecutor’s Office said customs officials took charge of a truckload of tobacco intended for destruction, but failed to implement adequate security measures.
The cigarettes had originally been seized in the port of Bar on 22 February, and were loaded into a truck in a warehouse utilized by the customs office. The illegal goods never reached their destination at the Mi-rai factory, where they were sent to be destroyed.
Confiscated cigarettes had previously been destroyed in Niksic on 30 June and 30 September. On those days, Milosevic, the outgoing Prime Minister Dritan Abazovic and the Interior Minister Filip Adzic were all present to witness the destruction.
On 2 October, police found the truck of stolen tobacco hidden in the capital of Podgorica. Elvir Adrovic and Milutin Pejovic, both customs officers, were arrested on the same day.
Milosevic resigned on 5 October. As part of his resignation, however, he insisted that he did not violate the law. Instead, he accused the media of conducting a political hunt aimed at discrediting him.
Even so, the Interior Minister Filip Adzic has praised Milosevic’s prosecution. Institutions should be cleansed, he said, of criminal influence and corruption.
“Until we build strong institutions, any indiscriminate action will be characterized as a weakness. We are building a strong country. The law is the same for everyone. Period,” Adzic posted on Twitter.
On 5 September, the outgoing Prime Minister Dritan Abazović presented a report regarding tobacco smuggling to the Special State Prosecutor’s Office, allegedly revealing the “road map” of cigarette smuggling in Montenegro.
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