The “cocaine king” accused of being behind one of the largest ever drugs busts to take place on European soil has been identified as the Balkan organised crime boss Michael Dokovich, according to court documents in Switzerland, where he is being held awaiting extradition to Montenegro.
Swiss media reports describe how Dokovich was captured unexpectedly in the car park of the Grand Casino, in Basel, Switzerland, in possession of 600 kilograms of cocaine with a street value of 18 million euros, packed into 21 suitcases.
The shipment of drugs had recently landed at Basel-Mulhouse airport near the Swiss border with France in a Gulfstream V private jet from Uruguay after a stopover in Nice. The arrest of the 60-year-old Montenegrin citizen along with two accomplices, the pilot and a computer scientist, brought to a conclusion the investigation into an innovative trafficking network that created a fake private plane chartering company to import cocaine into Europe from South America.
Operation Familia, as the investigation was dubbed, began at the end of 2017 when customs officials discovered a million euros in the chassis of a Mercedes attempting to cross the Croatia-Slovenia border near Zagreb. Traveling in the car was Michael Dokovich’s girlfriend, which directed the focus of the investigation towards Dokovich, resulting in a wiretap on his phone. In recorded conversations he was heard boasting of organising dozens of similar cash transfers in recent years.
In early 2019, Dokovich founded the MD Global Jet airline and hired Czech pilots to transport VIP passengers escorted by real flight attendants in order to maintain the appearance of a reputable company.
The private jet operated four flights to South America between October 2018 and March 2019, in each of which the passengers carried large amounts of cocaine in their baggage. Thirteen other countries, including France Czech Republic, Serbia, Slovenia, Switzerland, Belgium, Italy, Hong Kong, Macao, Malaysia, Uruguay, Paraguay and Costa Rica, joined the case and by May 2019, their investigations made it possible to obtain information on a major delivery due to arrive in Europe by private plane from Uruguay.
On the evening of 16 May, the Swiss police, in close collaboration with the Strasbourg research section, arrested three people in Basel, now revealed to be Dokovich and his two accomplices, in possession of more than 600 kg of 90% pure cocaine.
In total, Operation Familia resulted in the arrest of 16 people (11 in Europe and 5 in Asia) and the seizure of more than one tonne of cocaine (603 kg in Switzerland and 421 kg in Hong Kong), 2 million euros in cash and more than 1 million euros in luxury goods, including watches and vehicles.
Dokovich and the pilot’s appeals against their extradition to Montenegro were rejected on October 29 by the Federal Criminal Court in Switzerland. The computer scientist was transferred by Croatian authorities on 4 October.