Group America: Investigation a US-Serbian Drug Gang with Friends in the Shadwos

Updated: Mar 9

Speakers: Stevan Dojčinović, Pavla Holcová

Moderator: James Wright


December 11th, 2020, 16:05-16:40 CET

This discussion was organized in cooperation with the International Visegrad Fund.


Written by Amedeo Gasparini


Key words: Investigation, Cross-bordering, Corruption, Criminality, Crime


Short annotation, summary

The job of journalists can be dangerous sometimes: reporters may have to deal with criminals that can seriously harm them. It is the objective of several investigative consortia to deal with the burning issues and unreported networks such as Group America, a largely unknown criminal gang involved in corruption, organized crime and drug smuggling.


The project or approach to be discussed in the session

KRIK and investigace.cz seek to improve investigative journalism and reporting on criminal and controversial topics which journalists risk their lives for. Data gathering for those working within the field of investigative journalism is essential to offer readers a first-hand experience on issues linked with criminality, however, occasionally the reports are the result of a dangerous connection in terms of its sources with vengeful, criminal bands and organized crimes. Dojčinović’s and Holcová’s projects report stories between security and crime & organized gangs and states’ deviated sectors; caution must be exercised when handling these stories. The role of the sources is also important, and sometimes it must remain anonymous or at least not openly exposed.


Evidence of impact

Consortia of independent non-profit investigative journalists dealing with topics such as corruption, organized crime and other criminal operations are extremely impactful on social levels since they offer exclusive services to the societies and the states they work in, making underground and submerged worlds emerge between crime and state, legal and illegal, thus allowing the public itself to have opinion and fresh information on mysterious and opaque parts of the society. Reporting by investigative journalists is very risky potentially but readers often understand the importance of shedding light and clarity on the hidden aspects of organized and criminal gangs.


Limitations, risks of the approach provided by the speaker

The risks of certain type of insightful investigative journalism are closely related to the issues it intends to cover. It is very dangerous to investigate and report on (under)worlds related to drugs, organized crime, disappearance of people, corruption, trafficking of every kind and illicit materials. Journalists working and reporting on these issues put their lives in danger; the stories they produce can cost them years of work and sacrifices as well as threats and the inability to be protected.


Takeaways

1. (Investigative) journalism can help states with fighting organized crime.

2. Several journalists risk their lives to expose to the public criminal worlds that are often hidden and that many do not intend to expose.

3. Investigative journalists must structure their research phase very well in order to enhance their ability to produce connections between events, things and people of the criminal gangs.