Kosovo police arrest suspected crime boss Kelmendi

PRISTINA Mon May 6, 2013 6:16am EDT

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PRISTINA (Reuters) - Police in Kosovo have arrested Naser Kelmendi, suspected by the United States of trafficking drugs to Europe through the Balkans, on an international arrest warrant, police said on Monday.

Police spokesman Baki Kelani said Kelmendi and a second person were arrested on Sunday and taken to a detention centre. A senior police source said Kelmendi was arrested in Pristina.

Kelmendi, 55, is a Kosovo-born Albanian with Bosnian citizenship who along with his sons and brother owns a number of businesses in Bosnia, Montenegro, Serbia and Kosovo, including hotels and a trucking company.

In June 2012, U.S. President Barack Obama added him to a list of 97 drug lords who face U.S. sanctions under the U.S. Kingpin Act.

Bosnian police raided his businesses last September and tried to arrest him during a swoop on organized crime but he fled and was reportedly hiding in Pristina. He has been investigated in Bosnia on 13 criminal charges but never brought to trial.

Organized crime flourished in the Balkans during the wars that tore apart Yugoslavia in the 1990s, leaving a region awash with weapons and a transit route for drug traffickers.

(Reporting by Fatos Bytyci, writing by Daria Sito-Sucic; Editing by Janet Lawrence)

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