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Serbian extradited from Ecuador to Russia accused of creating int'l drug cartel

Serbian citizen Ivan Savkic accused of launching a large-scale drug trafficking channel was handed over to Russian law enforcement agencies at the airport of Ecuador's capital, Quito, the press centre of the Russian Interior Ministry told Itar-Tass on Sunday.

"During preliminary investigation detectives found that Savkic had set up an international criminal organised group which was trafficking cocaine in big batches from Ecuador to Russia. Trans-Atlantic sea-going ships were used for drug trafficking," the press centre said. Detectives believe that during loading in Ecuador a port employee had been hiding packs with cocaine in service spaces of the ship.

"Then he informed sailors recruited by members of the drug cartel about drugs planted in the cache and the latter have handed over the packs with cocaine to other criminals upon arrival at a port in the Russian city of St. Petersburg," the press centre said.

In the autumn of 2011 these sailors were detained in the search operation. During searches police officers have confiscated a batch of cocaine at a total cost of more than 1.5 million dollars. The detainees agreed to co-operate with detectives and gave confessing testimony, noting that a certain man named William had masterminded illegal drug business. "He was exposed in a months-long meticulous joint operation by law enforcement agencies of Russia, the United States, and the Republic of Ecuador. He turned out to be Serbian citizen Ivan Savkic known to European police," the press centre reported.

Since December 2012 Savkic has been kept at the Quito prison. Russian law enforcement agencies have been seeking for his extradition for more than 18 months. He had previous convictions for similar crimes in European countries.

The Russian Interior Ministry's investigation department was probing his illegal activity in the country. Kirovsky district court in St. Petersburg has earlier sentenced two members of his gang to different terms in jail.

[Source: Itar Tass, Moscow, 20Jul14]

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