Big Trouble, Little Bosnia
October 27, 2006 12:35 PM   Subscribe

So, what can you tell me about the Bosnian mob?

I'm looking for any and all information about Bosnian organized crime, particularly in the immigrant populations in American (Chicago and St. Louis have the big ones). Google isn't a huge help because of all of the articles about war crimes in Bosnia muck things up.

Looking to learn about: Systems of organization, major sources of income, relationship to the population at large, the big players, turf wars, traditions, slang, whatever. Also, any books or articles to persue further learning would be appriciated.
posted by Bookhouse to Society & Culture (6 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
Well, the war crimes are connected as a lot of the same guys are involved. Google "Arkan."
Also, the arms dealer Viktor Bout is an intersting place to start, very carefully. He does a lot of business in Bosnia, one would imagine.
There are Bosnian, Serb, and Croatian incarnations of the mob there too, so that makes things a little more complicated.
posted by cal71 at 2:20 PM on October 27, 2006


A few things.
Do not overlook human trafficing when looking for information on the current sources of their income.
Bosnia is a key conduit for Arms and People into europe.
Another large source of money for them is the trafficking and sale of Gasoline.

Their relationship with the population is interesting. Organized crime is so invasive in govt and politics, that you would be hard pressed to seperate the two. It is not just politics though. It is everywhere, but that is only out of necessity. Let me give you an example. In Bosnia, you cannot get a mortgage from a bank to buy a house (unless this has changed recently). All houses are bought with cash up front. So... if you would like to buy a house, you have to go to the mob. They will lend you the money. With interest of course ;)
The population relies on them more than they do the police to maintain security and keep crime down. The streets of Banja Luka are quite safe, but that is no thanks to the police. Rather, it is the mob that maintains this, as to steal from one of their 'businesses' would result in a far worse fate than would be given out in North America for the same offence.
Also, if you dig deep enough, you will discover that it was in fact the mob that saved the city of Sarajevo when the Serbs tried to take it by surprise at the beginning of the war. Essentially, they showed up at places like government buildings and TV stations, and told the first wave of Serbs who were attempting to sneak into the city and secure those locations by surprise that 'We have connections back in your home towns and know where your families live. Leave now or they will pay the price....' The surprise attack was not successful for that reason, and well, you know the history of the siege of Sarajevo that followed. Of course the mob made tonnes of money off smuggling arms and food into the city and selling it there.
posted by TheFeatheredMullet at 3:05 PM on October 27, 2006 [1 favorite]


Also, if you dig deep enough, you will discover that it was in fact the mob that saved the city of Sarajevo when the Serbs tried to take it by surprise at the beginning of the war. Essentially, they showed up at places like government buildings and TV stations, and told the first wave of Serbs who were attempting to sneak into the city and secure those locations by surprise that 'We have connections back in your home towns and know where your families live. Leave now or they will pay the price....'

Cute story. Do you have a reference?
posted by languagehat at 3:11 PM on October 27, 2006


somewhat OT, but bosnian "mobsters" frequently referenced in connection with prostitution in london.
posted by londongeezer at 10:39 PM on October 27, 2006


languagehat
I was given a tour of the city of Sarajevo by a fellow who was a ploice officer in the city prior to the war. He fought during the siege of the city (at the beginning, most of the 'firepower' that resided in the city was with the police).
He was also one of the folks who constructed the tunnel to the airport and used to shuttle people and supplies into and out of the city. He still lives there today. He supposedly has first hand knowledge of the incidents that took place early in the morning when the Serb 'Special Forces' types showed up, and his brother was killed fighting with them during the first few days.
Was he lying to me? I honestly have no reason to believe that he was, but other than that, I have no written reference of the events that he described to me. Full disclosure: He was Croat, so he may have embellished some of the details, but I figure that as a Cop in the city at the time he would have a good idea of the activities of the Mob.
posted by TheFeatheredMullet at 8:59 PM on October 28, 2006


I too heard these stories about in Sarajevo from people on all sides of the ethnic lines. I can't recall, but I feel like Peter Maas also talks about this in his book "Love Thy Neighbor." I could be wrong about that though.
posted by cal71 at 1:23 PM on October 29, 2006


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