Another unfinished piece by Ján Kuciak describes drug cartel

Following its publication, the General Prosecutor’s Office promises to look at the uncovered information.

Illustrative stock photoIllustrative stock photo (Source: TASR)

The Aktuality.sk website has published another text the murdered journalist Ján Kuciak was working on. It describes the story of a dangerous drug cartel, whose head Silvio Aquino supervised a significant portion of the cocaine business in the European Union and laundered the money in High Tatras, as the Denník N daily reported.

The international team of journalists continued with Kuciak’s work after his murder in late February, mapping the drug gang with links to the Italian mafia based in Belgium, but working in the Netherlands.

Read also:Journalists from competing media form a team to finalise Kuciak’s stories Read more 

The Slovak law enforcement bodies were working on the case in the past, cooperating with the Belgian police, but without charging anybody. The General Prosecutor’s Office now plans to look at the case again, the SITA newswire reported.

What is the story about?

Before his murder, Kuciak was working on the story with the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), Investigative Reporting Project Italy (IRPI) and the Czech Centre for Investigative Journalism (read the English version here).

When uncovering the case, the international team of journalists found out that the drug cartel was transporting cocaine from Costa Rica and Columbia in exotic fruit containers. Bananas used to conceal cocaine were supposed to be later sold in shops, possibly also in Slovakia.

Aquino’s wife was the Slovak Silvia Lišková who, according to the court file, knew about his business.

Read also:Cocaine hidden in fruit Read more 

The money acquired from the drug smuggling had to be laundered somewhere. Thus they bought a hotel in the High Tatras where Lišková used to work in the past. They were also building a luxurious villa in Stará Lesná, which is now nearly completed. The official owner, according to the cadastral office, is Lišková.

Apart from the hotel and the villa, she has a company named Silvis, which is still active. Even though it does not have any official website, its annual revenues in 2017 amounted to more than €1.6 million, Aktuality.sk wrote, referring to the Finstat data.

Aquino was detained along with several of the members of this organised crime group during the Raak police operation. However, he was killed shortly before the court hearing, Aktuality.sk reported.

The Belgian police was unable to dissolve the entire group, since its members are scattered across the globe. As a result, the drug business continues and those detained during the police operation were replaced by new ones, the website added.

Slovak involvement

Aquino was not a complete stranger to the Slovak law enforcement bodies, as the Noviny.sk website, the portal of the private broadcaster TV JOJ, informed.

Back in 2013 the Slovak prosecutor’s office provided legal aid to Belgium, where currently the trail with the gang’s members is underway. At the time, the Belgian investigators arrived in Slovakia. Altogether four district prosecutor’s offices, namely in Kežmarok, Spišská Nová Ves, Košice and Lučenec, collaborated with them.

Read also:GP: Mistakes have slowed down the investigation of journalist’s murder Read more 

However, they failed to charge anybody in the case.

The General Prosecutor’s Office now wants to deal with the information about Aquinos again.

Moreover, the police have confirmed that the case is being handled by the investigators looking into the murder of Kuciak and his fiancée, SITA reported.

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