on his knees | 

One of Europe’s most wanted drug traffickers named and pictured following capture

Nenad Petrak is captured in Istanbul

Neil Fetherstonhaugh

A suspected Croatian drug lord who was on Interpol's most wanted criminal list has been pictured on his knees as he was arrested in a Turkish bolt hole.

The moment Nenad Petrak was detained in Istanbul was captured in video which shows the wanted criminal boss on his knees surround by masked police officers.

He was apprehended in the Üsküdar district in what was a large-scale operation conducted by the Istanbul police following a major international operation lasting more than two years.

Petrak is believed to be the mastermind behind an international network involved in large-scale drug trafficking between South America and Europe.

Petrak who is also accused of violence and murder, has been linked to the discovery of 1,000 kilos of cocaine that was seized in Spain in 2020.

In October, 21 suspected members of his organisation were arrested as part of a crackdown on his gang.

One day after the cartel's leader was captured in Üsküdar, Istanbul police also apprehended another Croatian criminal, Christijan Palic, in the city's Beşiktaş district.

Palic has been identified as one of the leaders of the ‘Western Balkan Wing’ who was the so-called overseer responsible for the flow of drugs in the Balkan countries.

Palic had been the subject to an Interpol Blue Notice, which is specifically used to collect additional information about a person issued by European countries and Brazil, and was captured by police on November 19.

The international investigation has revealed how the cartel played a key role in establishing connections with criminal organisations in South America, where they procured the cocaine, collaborated with drug cartels in Europe, and engaged in money laundering the proceeds from their illicit activities.

The unraveling of Petrak's drug network, spanning nine countries, began in September 2020 with the seizure of 34 million euros worth of cocaine on a sailing boat in the Atlantic Ocean, according to a report by the daily Hürriyet.

Following the identification of addresses and identities of Petrak's cartel members, the Interpol-coordinated ‘Adriatica Operation’ was launched across Europe.

As they sought the ringleader Petrak many of his associates were apprehended and incarcerated. Meanwhile, Petrak was also the subject to a red notice by Interpol in connection with a murder in Croatia.

After Adriatica Operation was launched, Petrak fled from Croatia and escaped to Turkey where, based on Interpol-derived intelligence, security forces discovered that Petrak had arrived in Istanbul and was staying in a residence in Üsküdar.

Petrak was apprehended in the room where he was staying, brought to his knees and handcuffed after a raid on the residence was conducted with the support of special operations police.

Subsequent searches in Petrak's room led to the seizure of a substantial amount of money.

Petrak was the eighth cartel leader who was wanted by Interpol and apprehended in Istanbul, the daily reported.

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