Criminal Activities

The state of general chaos engendered by the defensive war against the BSA, the internal conflicts in central Bosnia, and the general availability of weapons significantly increased the opportunities and rewards for common criminal activity in the region, a factor that further degraded the HVO and

ABiH commanders' ability to exercise effective command and control.31 Croatian Defense Council authorities recognized the situation in a mid-1993 report, which noted: "The law and order situation in the HZ H-B has reflected the state of war on the greater part of its territory. Under such conditions we evaluate the law and order situation as exceptionally complex, since war operations bring in their train various phenomena such as theft and increase in all types of crime, fights, violent behaviour, the insulting and disparagement of law-enforcement officers, arguments, shooting with firearms in public places, etc."32

The frequent "holdups" of UN and private humanitarian aid convoys passing through central Bosnia were a particular problem. Such crimes were often blamed on HVO or ABiH military units when in fact they were the work of organized criminal gangs whose members may only coinciden-tally have been soldiers in one or the other army. Although both the HVO and the ABiH took some "official" action with respect to interference with the aid convoys, many of the incidents had nothing to do with actions authorized by either the Croat or the Muslim military or civilian authorities.

Although many of the crimes of violence against persons and property were the actions of individuals, the most serious threat to law and order was posed by some of the smaller paramilitary groups, both Croat and Muslim. These heavily armed criminal gangs engaged in wholesale murder, robbery, arson, extortion, black marketeering, and other criminal activity and thus were almost impossible for HVO and ABiH commanders to control. Among the most active Croat gangs operating in the OZCB area of operations were the "Zuti" in Travnik, led by Zarko "Zuti" Andric, and the "Maturice" and "Apostoli" gangs controlled by Ivica Rajic (aka Victor Andric) in the Kisel-jak area.33 Among the more active Muslim gangs was the "Fish Head Gang" led by "Paraga," which preyed upon the UN humanitarian convoys on Route diamond between Gornji Vakuf and Novi Travnik.34

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