Two days before the Barcolana – the world’s largest sailing race – Trieste, Italy, was abuzz not with the usual pre-race excitement but with a shocking turn of events. Milos Radonjic, the skipper of the 24-meter racer Maxi Jena and one of the race favorites, was taken into custody.
Radonjic is now in the maximum-security prison in Tolmezzo, Udine, facing charges of drug trafficking and money laundering. The sailing community, blindsided by the incident, is left grappling with the implications.
Radonjic, a 33-year-old Montenegrin, is no ordinary detainee. The US authorities have painted him as a dangerous boss of the Kavac clan, a transnational criminal organization allegedly involved in an attempt to smuggle over two tons of cocaine from Ecuador and Colombia to Europe. The skipper, known as ‘the Pirate of the Unknown’, is accused of coordinating this mammoth drug transportation, with the US investigation resting on intercepted communications and encrypted messages.
Despite the strong allegations, Radonjic maintains his innocence, asserting that he’s a victim of mistaken identity. His claim, however, fell on deaf ears, as fingerprint checks, passport records, and phone records confirmed he was the alleged drug trafficker.
Radonjic’s arrest sent ripples through the Barcolana regatta. Even though the Maxi Jena crew participated without their skipper and finished fourth, they were later disqualified for twice using the engine in violation of race rules. The disqualification, coupled with Radonjic’s arrest, cast a pall over the team, raising numerous questions about the world of professional sailing.