Balkan crime gang and Ilija Raftoski arrested after police raid Perth and North Macedonia
A Perth man has been charged in North Macedonia for crimes that police say is a key link in a transnational crime network.
It is alleged that Ilija Raftoski led the coordination, importation and distribution of illegal drugs and cash in Western Australia.
WA police seized approximately $7 million in cash, three kilograms of methylamphetamine or ice, 28 kilograms of heroin, six firearms and 3,000 ammunition in recent months.
A video of the operation to arrest Raftoski showed heavily armed police officers wearing riot gear and carrying shields in the early morning hours.
After an officer smashed the door of Raftoski’s apartment in North Macedonia, the others ran to arrest him.
The bearded Raftoski, 27, was then propped up against a wall while he was arrested and handcuffed.
Perth man Ilija Raftoski (pictured center) has been taken into custody in North Macedonia on information from WA Police
Officers then searched a bedroom and took evidence before taking Raftoski, who was dressed in a tracksuit, in custody.
Raftoski will wait years in North Macedonia’s infamous prison system if found guilty.
He appeared before a court in North Macedonia on Friday, it was announced on Sunday.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, which worked with the Western Australian Police Forces on the operations, praised their efforts.
“Western Australia police have once again proven that they are willing to go to the ends of the world to keep the scourge of drugs off the coasts of Australia and the streets of Western Australia,” said Kevin Merkel, Australia’s country attorney from the DEA.
“The results… speak for themselves.”
In related news, a 61-year-old man from East Victoria Park has been charged with serious drug offenses along with two other Perth men, aged 64 and 68.
The charges were filed following an operation in August following an investigation by the Serious and Organized Crime Unit into the 61-year-old, who is believed to have links to organized crime in the Balkans.
The operation is one of three carried out in Perth in recent months in connection with the distribution of methylamphetamine and heroin, leading to a total of 19 arrests and 52 indictments.
Ilija Raftoski, 27, from Western Australia, pictured being arrested in North Macedonia
The other two operations are said to be linked to criminal networks operating internationally, nationally and within WA, in Kenwick and Midland.
Acting WA Commissioner Col Blanch said the seizures and arrests showed that renewed efforts to target criminal networks were bearing fruit.
“We continue to adapt to the business models used by criminal groups and use innovative and unique investigative tactics to identify, infiltrate and disrupt those criminal networks,” he said on Sunday.
“Anyone in WA who thinks it is safe to use encrypted communications to purchase drugs or facilitate their movement needs to rethink.
“More than a dozen people from various criminal networks in WA all thought they were safe — and they were all wrong.”
The photo shows North Macedonian police officers smashing an apartment door to kill Perth man Ilija Raftoski. to arrest
Raftoski, who previously worked as a security guard in Perth, landed on police radar last year during Operation Comstock, indicting 13 Western Australians. The Western Australian reported.
“It is alleged that the 27-year-old man, who lives in North Macedonia, led the coordination, importation and distribution of illegal drugs and cash to WA,” police said.
Detectives from the Serious and Organized Crime Department traveled to North Macedonia earlier this month with the help of the Australian Federal Police to work with local authorities after an arrest warrant was issued at the request of the WA Police Force.
“On Thursday, North Macedonia’s drug brigade issued two search warrants related to the man.”
Raftoski was charged with criminal association and the production and sale of illegal drugs.
WA detectives flew to North Macedonia to assist the police in the investigation.
Raftoski was banned from doing “high level security work” in WA in 2019.