Kosovo police officers arrested in crackdown on illegal casinos

A sign for a casino is illuminated in Mitrovica, Kosovo, in 2007

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At least 10 police officers have been arrested in Kosovo during a large-scale operation to close down illegal casinos.

Hundreds of officers took part in the raid in the village of Karachevo on the border with Serbia.

Police said it was the biggest operation of its kind ever carried out in Kosovo and followed a year-long investigation.

Kosovo banned all gambling last year in a bid to crack down on crime.

Jetish Maloku, chief prosecutor for the eastern district of Gjilan, told reporters that police had arrested at least 35 people on suspicion of illegal gambling, prostitution, and trafficking people, guns and drugs.

At least 10 of those were border police who were alleged to have facilitated illegal cross-border activity.

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Twelve illegal casinos were demolished and gambling machines seized, police said.

In March last year the government banned all gambling for 10 years because of its links to organised crime.

The bill was passed followed the murders of two casino staff at different locations only a few days apart. A police officer was arrested in connection with one of the killings.

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Kosovo’s then prime minister Ramush Haradinaj said at the time that the measure was aimed at “strengthening public security”.

“We will not allow these venues to be arenas of crime that claim people’s lives,” he said on Facebook.

Just before the ban came into force, police shut down nearly 500 gambling sites across Kosovo.

Betting, particular on sports, had become hugely popular in Kosovo in recent years.

Related Topics

  • Gambling

  • Kosovo

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