At least 50 Serbian mercenaries, veterans of the war in the former Yugoslavia, are working in Colombia and Bolivia as bodyguards to powerful drug cartels, according to Serbian media reports published Wednesday.
The reports say that the Serbian mercenaries have high levels of combat experience and are contracted through Brazilian intermediaries at a salary of $3,000 to $10,000 per month.
News of the Serbs’ work with Colombian and Bolivian cartels surfaced after three Serbs were killed in the Bolivian city of Santa Cruz two weeks ago, following a shootout between rival drug gangs.
Colombian drug cartels and illegal armed groups have been accused of working with foreigners in the past to acquire international expertise in various areas.
In 2001, Israeli citizen Yair Klein, a former Israeli army officer, was convicted in absentia by a Colombian court for training drug cartels and right-wing paramilitaries in the 1980s. Authorities claim that Klein was also hired by the notorious head of the Medellin cartel, Pablo Escobar.