Record drug bust in Romanian village: Prosecutors seize two tons of cannabis

Record drug bust in Romanian village: Prosecutors seize two tons of cannabis

Romanian prosecutors of the Anti-Organized Crime Directorate (DIICOT) and police officers seized a record of two tons of cannabis on Friday, September 29, following searches in Mehedinti county.

The investigation targets five people, namely two Italians and three Romanians, who set up a cannabis crop on a 4,000-square-meter land plot in Poiana Gruii village in Mehedinti county.

The cannabis plants had a height of 1.5 meters and were in the last stage of vegetation before harvesting, according to DIICOT.

One of the suspects, a 38-year-old man, was in charge of taking care of these plants. He had planted them on a plot of land belonging to his grandfather, at the request of an Italian citizen from Naples for which he worked during the period 2012-2016. His father and other people from the village helped him take care of the cannabis plants, the prosecutors say.

Moreover, in July this year, the 38-year-old man bought a house near the cannabis plantation, a house that was supposed to be used to process the cannabis plants to be harvested.

Following the searches carried out last Friday, September 29, the prosecutors seized around two tons of cannabis and brought in 11 people for questioning.

Meanwhile, two police officers from Arad were detained on Sunday, October 1, after the authorities discovered they had planted cannabis in a forest in the county. One of the policemen and a friend of his were caught while preparing to harvest the cannabis plants while the other police officer was taken from his home by DIICOT prosecutors, reports local Mediafax.

All three people were arrested for 24 hours but could spend 30 days in jail if the court approves the prosecutors’ request in this sense.

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Croatian Island Airport Becomes Pentagon Hub

A small airport on a Croatian island has become an important but unofficial logistical base for Pentagon shipments to the Middle East, likely including arms for Syrian rebels.

Ivan Angelovski, Lawrence Marzouk, Jelena Cosic BIRN Washington, BelgradeLow-cost airlines packed with sun-seekers are the norm for Rijeka airport on the Croatian island of Krk.

But since April, they have been sharing a runway with vast cargo planes carrying munitions and unidentified military supplies for the Pentagon’s wars in the Middle East, the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network has discovered.

Reporters have identified 14 cargo flights in the past six months carrying, or probably carrying, Eastern Bloc-style weapons and ammunition for the US military.

“People on the beach get up from the towels to see what is happening as it looks like planes are about to land on their heads. Local people react to those big ones now as they are really noisy.”
Almira Brtan, owner of holiday apartments near the airport

Air traffic control at Rijeka declined to comment on the planes’ cargo, but admitted that there had been “many more” of these types of flights this year.

The upsurge appears to be the result of the Pentagon’s decision to switch its arms supply-line route to Syria away from Germany.

Since April, ten flights have been operated by Pentagon-commissioned air carriers between Rijeka and the US’s airbase in Qatar, Al Udeid Air Base, with the last taking off on September 25.

Each used a specific call-sign, ‘CMB’, given to cargo flights chartered by the Pentagon . Before landing in Rijeka, the planes used a commercial flight number, indicating that the military cargo was picked up in Croatia.

Evidence collected by BIRN suggests the cargo is likely to have been former Eastern Bloc countries’ arms destined for the Middle East.

Qatar has not been named as an official hub for the Pentagon’s programme of arming anti-ISIS fighters, but is listed as the headquarters for US air operations for Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Flight records also show that Pentagon-commissioned cargo planes regularly transport military supplies between Qatar and Kuwait, one of the depots for weapons destined for Syrian rebels.

In June and July, another four flights to Rijeka were carried out by the Azerbaijan airlines Silk Way, which runs a fleet of giant, Russian-built Ilyushin-76 aircraft.

Leaked documents from the cargo carrier reveal that these aircraft delivered ammunition for Soviet-style weapons from Azerbaijan to the Croatian coast on behalf of the Pentagon’s Special Operations Command, SOCOM.

These files reveal that $16million of Bulgarian ammunition destined for Pentagon-backed forces in Syria and Iraq was due to be routed through Germany but later this was changed to Croatia.

SOCOM, a secretive branch of the US military, buys equipment for anti-ISIS rebels in Syria, as well as other sensitive partners. It is a key player in funnelling up to $2.2 billion of arms to Syrian fighters from former Eastern Bloc countries.

Rijeka’s transformation into a hub for military flights came after the US stopped supplying former Eastern Bloc arms to Syria through military bases in Germany.

As BIRN previously reported, leaked emails obtained by reporters reveal that in December 2016, the Pentagon ordered its contractors working on the supply-line to stop trucking weapons to US army bases in Germany because Berlin had become “very sensitive” about the deliveries.

The Pentagon has refused to confirm that its contractors used Germany for the transfer of military equipment to Syria.