Who Is Who: Shot Bulgarian Mobster Zlatomir Ivanov, aka Zlatko Baretata (Beret)
One of the emblematic Bulgarian mafia bosses Zlatomir Ivanov, aka Zlatko Baretata (The Beret), pictured waiting for a court hearing. Photo by BGNES
Bulgarian mobster Zlatomir Ivanov, aka Zlatko Baretata (The Beret), was shot and injured before the Central Courthouse in Bulgaria's capital Sofia the morning of January 29, 2013.
Zlatomir Ivanova, aka The Beret, was born on October 15, 1968, in the southern Bulgarian town of Gurkovo.
His nickname comes from the fact that in 1991-1993 he served at the Counter-terrorism Squad of the Bulgarian Interior Ministry, whose members are known as The Berets.
According to media reports, Ivanov left the counter-terrorism squad in protest against the arrest of other "berets" in the southern city of Haskovo, who clashed with local pimps.
Plamen Galev and Angel Hristov, aka The Galevi Brothers, other notorious Bulgarian mobsters, who disappeared in 2012 after being convicted to five years in jail each on organized crime charges, left the beret squad together with Ivanov.
Zlatomir Ivanov graduated from the sports high school in the southern city of Stara Zagora where he specialized in wrestling.
Officially, he has a share in over 30 firms for security services, trade with oil, chemical, and pharmaceutical products, and owns gambling venues, according to information of the Focus news agency.
During the term of Prime Minister Ivan Kostov (1997-2001), Zlatko Baretata was a suspect in investigation for women trafficking / prostitution rings, and smuggling of stolen cars. The Bulgarian Interior Ministry often indicates that he is involved in the narcotics business, and Baretata is known as a drug lord.
According to a report of the Center for Study of Democracy, a Sofia-based think-tank, back in 2003, Zlatomir Ivanov was named one of the six drug bosses in Bulgaria.
After the Chelopechene military depot exploded in July 2008 near Sofia, there were reports that a firm belonging to Ivanov's sister had a contract with the Bulgarian military to clear out the depot and prepare it for sale.
Ivanov's name has also been mentioned in cases of murder, assassination attempts, and trafficking. He has been arrested multiple times on various charges but always let go.
"If there are people who are drug bosses – there role must be the following – there must be relative peace in the streets without murders and fights. I have no way of clearing my name, and even though I haven't made my peace with that, I will always be known as "the drug boss". I am trying to survive," Baretata is known to have told the bTV channel in an interview.
Zlatomir Ivanov was arrested on February 7, 2009, after he turned himself in to Bulgaria's National State Security Agency DANS. He was charged with organizing and leading an organized crime group dealing with drug distribution and murders.
A well-known Sofia drug dealer, Dimitar Vuchev, aka Dembi, has testified since then that Ivanov ordered the murders of several mid-level crime figures in Bulgaria including another leading drug dealer, Anton Miltenov, aka Klyuna (The Beak).
Zlatomir Ivanov is also mentioned as a suspect in the assassination of mafia stories writer and former low-level mobster Georgi Stoev who was shot dead in Sofia in 2008.
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