“Socalj” for Borderland Beat 

The United States designated a citizen of Bosnia and Herzegovina who has been detained last year in Dubai as the alleged leader of a drug cartel and one of the key players in the global cocaine trade. Edin “Tito” Gačanin was released from his detention in Dubai in January 2023.

The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated three individuals in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) pursuant to Executive Orders (E.O.) 14033 or E.O. 14059. These designations build on other recent OFAC sanctions in the region and, collectively underscore the United States’ willingness to hold accountable those who are undermining democratic institutions and furthering their agendas for political and personal gain, at the expense of peace, stability, and progress in the Western Balkans.

“The three individuals designated today constitute a threat to regional stability, institutional trust, and the aspirations of those seeking democratic governance in the Western Balkans,” said Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian E. Nelson. “The United States will continue to target those who perpetuate corruption and undermine the postwar agreements and institutions established as part of the hard-won Dayton Peace Agreement.”


Who is Edin Gačanin?

Edin “Tito” Gačanin, is the leader of the Tito and Dino Cartel, also known as a “European Escobar,” and has been labeled by the DEA as one of the world’s top 50 drug dealers, according to the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).

Gačanin’s gang is believed to be involved in massive cocaine shipments from South America to Europe worth billions of dollars. He is thought to have been recruiting members from Bosnia and the region, many of them actually being the Sarajevo neighbors of the Gačanin family.

The gang also registered a number of companies in the Netherlands, Slovenia, Spain, and Bosnia and Herzegovina, to be used in laundering the drug proceeds.

Arrest & Release

His arrest was one of 49 in a multi-national police operation announced by Europol against the Super Cartel. But just two months after his arrest was hailed by Europol, Gačanin was freed on bail despite attempts by the authorities in the Netherlands to have him extradited.

A Dutch spokesperson stated they are working on trying to find out what went wrong with the process but admitted they no longer know where Gačanin since his release on 29 December. “We know the stories about the documents being submitted too late. That is not true. We are working to find out what exactly is the cause.”

A lawyer for Gačanin told the news website ‘ad.nl’ he was released “according to legal regulations” and is still waiting on the extradition process. Dutch authorities have no knowledge

Connections to the Kinahan Cartel

“In addition to narcotics trafficking efforts across multiple countries, Gačanin’s cartel is involved in money laundering and is closely linked to the Kinahan Organized Crime Group, a Transnational Criminal Organization previously designated by OFAC, for its role as a significant transnational criminal organization,” read the statement.

He is a close ally of Daniel Kinahan and was a guest at his wedding in Dubai in 2017. The two traffickers are both key figures in Europe’s Super Cartel, a grouping of criminals who control a large part of the cocaine trade across the continent. Last year, the leaders of the Kinahan Cartel were added to the sanctions list and a $5 million reward for information that would lead to convictions.

OFAC is designating Gacanin pursuant to E.O. 14059 for having engaged in, or having attempted to engage in, activities or transactions that have materially contributed to, or pose a significant risk of materially contributing to, the international proliferation of illicit drugs or their means of production.

Sanctions against Gacanin were coordinated closely with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation (Europol), and the governments of The Netherlands, France, and Belgium.

Sources OCCRP, Sunday World, US Treasury