Security Chaos

No place needs security more than in the Balkans!


Serbia: Tracing a Fugitive’s Business Deals PDF Print E-mail
Darko Šarić

The origins of Darko Šarić’s fortune remain unclear despite his letter to special prosecutors that his media-related business dealings and not drugs explain his wealth.

By Stevan Dojčinović

Darko Šarić, under increasing pressure as business associates head to prison for deals he planned, claims his wealth comes not from crime but from selling a popular newsstand chain for €30 million. What Šarić didn't explain in an unusual letter to prosecutors two months ago is how he came to win control of the business in the first place.

An Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) investigation of company registers and court records shows that Šarić took over Štampa Sistem in 2008 by cutting a deal with the family of a murdered cigarette smuggler. Šaric, a fugitive since his April indictment on charges he ran a massive cocaine cartel, controlled Štampa through a series of offshore companies, records obtained by OCCRP show.

Read more: Serbia: Tracing a Fugitive’s Business Deals
Crime and Politics Mix in Security Industry PDF Print E-mail



They began to rise when the old political systems started crumbling. Trained professional soldiers simply switched to private security companies, protecting banks, schools, money transfers and important people.

The work fed their families and gave newly formed governments much needed jobs and better security, at least in theory. In reality, the private security sector became its own political, criminal and social force.

Reporters from the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) spread out across South East Europe to find out who really controls the industry. Researching court records, tax rolls, business registers and government contracts, the reporters found that some of the most powerful figures in organized crime hide behind security companies in order to arm thugs and intimidate their foes.

Read more: Crime and Politics Mix in Security Industry
Moldova’s past, present merge in private security sector PDF Print E-mail


Gheorghe Papuc, Moldova’s former Minister of Internal Affairs, warned security firms that they must help the then ruling Party of Communists or face trouble.

Political parties and leaders push to maintain government control, while a new group of owners favor free market and competition.

By Dumitru Lazur

On the eve of Moldova's parliamentary elections campaigns last year, Minister of Internal Affairs Gheorghe Papuc called a meeting with managers of private security companies and asked for help. He also added a warning.

Papuc asked the managers to spread electoral propaganda in favor of the Party of Communists that had governed Moldova since 2001. “We need your support and backup. You must take part in convincing citizens by means of the trustworthy people that you have” he told them.

Papuc also reminded the managers at the July meeting that they “do business together with police” and made it clear they could “remain without business” unless they cooperated. Companies that “disobey” could face even more “severe methods.”

Read more: Moldova’s past, present merge in private security sector
Bulgaria: The public, violent side of private security PDF Print E-mail


Arrest of Aleksey Petrov

For two decades the security guard business has been an integral part of Bulgarian political and economic life. From this business, two former karate champions – one who became premier and one a secret agent – have waged a furious fight for control.

By Stanimir Vaglenov

They started as friends and quickly thrived as business partners in Bulgaria’s ruthless private security sector. The transition from communism in the early 1990s brought opportunity and risks, and the two karate masters exercised both while creating companies and amassing fortunes.

The  friendship didn’t last the decade, but the power and influence of these now bitter enemies --  and of the private security sector they helped form -- continues today.

Read more: Bulgaria: The public, violent side of private security
Serbia: Nobody’s Policing the Security Guards PDF Print E-mail


Strahinja Milošević, a talented basketball player for club Partizan, was injured when beaten by security guards at a local disco

With no regulations or licensing, private security companies have become a haven for criminals looking for a legitimate business cover. Criminals use the companies to increase their power and intimidate foes.

By Stevan Dojčinović

As many as 60,000 armed men roam the streets and cities of Serbia without any rules or government supervision. Many of them are criminals; thousands more work for crime bosses engaged in extortion, shakedowns and violence.

But all have one thing in common:

They operate in Serbia’s unregulated, powerful and sometimes dangerous private security industry.

Serbia is the only country in the region with no laws governing the private security sector.

Read more: Serbia: Nobody’s Policing the Security Guards
Serbia: Security Firm connected to Drug Lord PDF Print E-mail


Darko Šarić

The Serbian Ministry of Interior (MUP) twice issued permits to a security firm operating out of an apartment associated with fugitive drug dealer Darko Šarić, who allegedly tried to import 2.7 tons of cocaine from South America.

MUP issued permits in 2006 and 2007 to Total Security System and owner Marko Šarić allowing them to buy and possess eight guns, the ministry said in a reply to questions by the Center for Investigative Reporting in Serbia (CINS).

By Stevan Dojčinović

The address listed on Total Security System’s matches the Belgrade apartment of Duško Šarić, Darko’s brother. MUP did not specify in its reply whether the firearm licenses have been revoked. The police searched an apartment on Arsenije Čarnojević Boulevard in Novi Beograd in February 2010, and at the same time a neighboring apartment that police believe was owned by Darko Šarić. That apartment was sealed and impounded by the police.

Read more: Serbia: Security Firm connected to Drug Lord
Bosnia : The Pensions Taxpayers Paid For Twice PDF Print E-mail

Private guards protecting a vehicle full of pension money last fall did not carry weapons as required by law. Robbers struck and now the insurance company won’t cover the loss. Since 2002 guards have taken over from police the job of escorting money shipments in BiH.

By Boris Mrkela

A robbery the morning of Nov. 5, 2009, in the hamlet of Kruševo was swift and well-planned. Just five minutes passed between the moment security guards in two vehicles arrived in front of the post office and the emergency call to a police dispatcher. At the scene, police picked up a cocked, one-shot, disposable anti-tank weapon. Soon after, the white van in which the robbers spirited away the cash, was found burned across the canton border.

Read more: Bosnia : The Pensions Taxpayers Paid For Twice
Progress, but no Solutions in Macedonia PDF Print E-mail


Pavle Trajanov, the former minister of internal affairs (MIA)

The security sector is plagued by upstarts looking to take greater control from government, even as a rash of robberies show much work remains.

By Xhelal Neziri

The leader of a private security advocacy group sits in a Skopje jail, accused of selling worthless security firm operating licenses for profit and to enhance his own power base. A spree of brazen bank robberies earlier this year has investigators wondering if the guards hired to protect valuables are working with those intent on stealing them.

And rival security firms aligned with political parties have been accused of a host of electoral shenanigans, from stuffing ballot boxes to extortion and killings.


Read more: Progress, but no Solutions in Macedonia
Romania: New system, same players PDF Print E-mail


Former general Dimitru Iliescu owned a security firm through which he allegedly blackmailed and extorted politicians and others.

Spies, military officers and enforcers who flourished under the Ceausescu regime are now thriving on their own, turning their skills into powerful security firms that dig up information on people and exploit the public.

By Catalin Prisacariu

They spied on politicians and business leaders, eavesdropped on citizens and gathered information to blackmail and gain influence. Using threats and force, they formed an important and violent part of Nicolae Ceausescu’s former communist regime.

Today communism is gone, but many leaders of its feared security apparatus are now in business for themselves. And their methods haven’t changed.

Romania’s private security sector has flourished in the past 20 years, mirroring a trend seen across the Balkans. But while politicians around the region bow to the industry’s power by making weak or non-existent laws, Romanian business and political leaders sometimes become victims of its force.

Read more: Romania: New system, same players