38-member heroin gang in northern Serbia sentenced by Belgrade’s court

A Belgrade court on Monday sentenced 38 members of a drug dealing gang from Serbia's northern Vojvodina province to prison terms of up to 15 years.

The group was charged with trafficking heroin in Vojvodina between 1999 and 2003, when most of the suspects were arrested. The trial lasted 20 months and was one of the largest gangland cases in Serbia, the AP reports.

Apart from selling heroin, the group was also convicted of the murder of a rival gang member and destruction of property.

The top 10 suspects received sentences from five to 15 years each, while 28 lesser members of the gang _ known as the "Firm" and based in Novi Sad, Vojvodina's provincial capital _ were given one to four and a half year terms. The group was allegedly linked with the Zemun Clan, Serbia's largest underworld group, alleged to be connected to the 2003 assassination of Serbia's first democratic prime minister, Zoran Djindjic. Members of the Zemun Clan, named after a Belgrade suburb, are standing trial separately in the Djindjic slaying case and on organized crime charges. A.M.

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