AN ongoing war between rival Balkan gangs was responsible for an assassination-style killing in the centre of Marbella last month.
Three people have now been arrested for the murder of Milos Perunic, 41, who was gunned down with a sub-machine gun near his home on Calle Arturo Rubinstein on June 2.
The suspects were cuffed this week by a crack team of investigators specifically created to investigate mafia hits, or ‘settling of accounts’, as they are often referred to.
Perunic, a Montenegro man, was living in Marbella under a fake identity, calling himself Slavisa Zekic.
After opening fire on him from behind with an uzi, the shooter, donning a mask, ran on foot before hopping on the back of a motorbike.
Perunic, it has now been revealed, had a dozen bullet wounds, including several in the head.
The special force heading up the investigation, working with Udyco and Greco Costa del Sol, managed to track down the killers after they fled the province and headed north.
Working with police in Gerona and Barcelona, the trio, all from Croatia, were found and cuffed in Catalunya.
According to investigators, the killing of Perunic was part of a deep and ongoing war between rival Balkan gangs who are battling for control of the Costa del Sol.
The conflict between two Montenegro crime groups began in 2015 when a high ranking gang member was gunned down as he stepped out of his car in Belgrade, Serbia.
According to OCCRP, dozens have been killed across the continent as the rival clans, Škaljari and Kava?, based on the opposite side of a mountain in Montenegro, battle to take control cocaine smuggling routes from South America to Europe.
The Costa del Sol is one of the most important routes, with nearby Algeciras port the main entry point for cocaine from the likes of Colombia and Brazil.
Perunic would have belonged to one of the Montenegro gangs but was not a big player, police said.
He first moved to Spain as Slavisa Zekic in 2013, but was arrested the next year after being found aboard a boat with two Spaniards attempting to smuggle 31 kilos of cocaine.
He was sent to the notorious Botafuegos prison in Algeciras for six years, where he was an exemplary inmate.
He was on probation when he was gunned down and was facing extradition charges, which he was planning on appealing.
Police have also revealed that another foreign resident has been arrested in Marbella as part of the investigation into his murder.
Perunic was the second settling of accounts in Malaga following the end of the coronavirus lockdown.
A week earlier, a young Brit was shot four times in the legs as part of a warning from his mafia bosses.
Two Englishman and an Irishman have been arrested for the attack.