Soldiers help bust alcohol smugglers in Kosovo
By MARTIN EGNASH | STARS AND STRIPES Published: July 9, 2018
U.S. soldiers in Kosovo recently helped thwart smugglers bringing in alcohol from Serbia valued at more than $11,000, Army officials said Monday.
The soldiers, deployed on the NATO peacekeeping mission to Kosovo, were observing the administrative boundary line with Serbia in June when they noticed something suspicious, officials said.
“Two of my soldiers called to me and informed me that there was a white van and a blue truck sitting on the Serbian side of the (border) and what looked to be people passing goods between the vehicles,” said Staff Sgt. Adam Kiefaber, a soldier with the 61st Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division.
“Then we observed them driving back across into Kosovo,” Kiefaber said Monday. “My soldiers know that there shouldn’t be anyone crossing at that position. There are designated gates that people are supposed to cross through. And this was not one of them.”
The soldiers then contacted the Kosovo border police, who apprehended the vehicles and found alcohol that the smugglers were trying to get into Kosovo without paying customs duties.
Organized criminal groups have long been active in Kosovo, which declared independence from Serbia in 2008. Smugglers attempt to bring into the country everything from weapons and drugs to commercial goods, the Army said in a statement last week.
“It is known that smuggling was happening in Kosovo but catching someone in the act is always difficult,” 2nd Lt. John Giglio, the platoon leader of the soldiers who caught the smugglers, said in a statement.
Since 1999, NATO troops have been deployed to Kosovo to keep the peace between Serbia and its onetime province. U.S. soldiers have been a part of the Kosovo Force since its inception.
Bandit Troop commander Capt. Paul Patino stands in formation with Bandit Troop at Camp Nothing Hill, Kosovo, on May 20, 2018, during a change of command ceremony. Bandit Troop conducts screen observation post operations and patrols on the Administrative Boundary Line between Kosovo and Serbia to assist the Kosovo Border Police in stopping smugglers.
KAREEM ABIOSE/U.S. ARMY