Prime Minister Zoran Zaev is yet to comment on the police raids on Friday, in which marijuana produced in farms owned by his close relative was seized as it was being illegally trafficked. The police commissioner of Prilep and the personal driver to Zaev’s cousin and businessman guru Trajce Zaev, were arrested while they were transporting the drugs worth nearly a million EUR on the black market.
Interior Minister and Zaev loyalist Oliver Spasovski tweeted about the raids but did not mention the clear political affiliation of those arrested and the fact that the drugs originate from farms apparently owned by the Zaev family. The Ministry posted extensive pictures of the raid, including of the drugs and the large weapons cache seized from Trajce Zaev’s driver, but insisted to use only initials for those arrested and did not discuss the involvement of the “ruling family”.
Zaev himself remained silent about the arrests. The Government was asked by the press about the involvement of the Prime Minister’s family in drug trafficking and issued only a short statement saying that “We expect a quick and thorough investigation by the relevant institutions that will provide answers to the public interest and will show unselective approach no matter who is involved so that all who acted illegally will face accountability. Regarding the ownership of the vehicles of private companies we address you to ask the companies in question”.
The Zaev regime is now facing two concurrent scandals – the marijuana seizure and the earlier revelation that the Interior Ministry was issuing passports to regional drug lords and mafia bosses. In the mafia passports scandal, the regime defended itself by saying that it was working on an investigation into the matter together with the US Embassy. The US Embassy initially insisted that it will not comment on the investigations and merely stated that it is providing technical assistance to the Macedonian law enforcement. Yesterday, a media outlet quoted an unattributed statement from the Embassy, revealing that “in the this case (the marijuana raids) and the passports case, we worked together with the Interior Ministry and provided technical support”.
Public supporters of the Zaev regime have jumped on initial claims from the Interior Ministry that it is working with American authorities in the passports scandal and have used it to claim that Minister Spasovski was actually investigating the “mafia passports”, not covering for the criminal group operating within the Ministry. But now they face the prospect of having a police commissioner and a driver directly linked to the Zaev family arrested in a raid apparently coordinated with the American DEA.
Zoran Zaev took the day off yesterday for his favorite pasttime – riding motorcycles with Healthcare Minister Venko Filipce in the mountains around Krusevo. Meanwhile, VMRO-DPMNE issued a statement alleging that Trajce Zaev has left the country and is currently in Dubai.
Trajce Zaev’s personal driver Aleksandar Uslikovski, along with the commissioner of the Prilep police Kiril Spirkoski, who was directly appointed to this position by Minister Spasovski, were forward drivers in the transport of drugs originating from the Zaev family’s favorite business – the marijuana farms. The shipment originates from the Medical 420 farm in Bitola, linked directly to the Zaev family. The Zaev cousins need to answer question to the public, including whether Trajce Zaev is still in Macedonia or has he fled to Dubai?, VMRO-DPMNE said in its statement.