Albanian mobs are coming of age – with direct connections to Colombian drug suppliers. In response, Prime Mister Edi Rama proposed a deal to European leaders for cracking down on the gangs to help his bid for EU membership.
Albanian gangsters, he wrote in a letter in November, “reside and are thriving in your nation too, profiting from drugs, human trafficking and other illicit activities”. He added: “We want your help and offer ours in return to catch them and bring them to justice.”
As reported by The Sunday Times, cooperation with British police is already in progress. Last year a joint effort halted a scheme to disassemble Kalashnikovs into three parts and post them in separate parcels from Tirana to Albanians waiting in the UK.
Rama said he refused to take all the blame for the growing role of Albanians in global crime.
“This is a big debate I had with Boris Johnson – I said, ‘Albanian criminals are not Albania’s burden and problem if they grow and are active in other countries’,” he said. “Of course there is a way to address this problem together because they have connections and families here.”
The prime minister blamed the Italian mafia for giving Albanians in Britain their “education”.
After taking office in 2013, Rama sent in police who seized 71 tonnes of drugs from the village and more than 400 automatic weapons, an anti-aircraft machine gun, grenade launchers, mortars and anti-tank weapons.
In response traffickers hired an army of peasant farmers to spread cultivation around the country, bribing local police to turn their backs.
But the Albanian government is planning to eradicate planting this year. The police, however, have warned that reduced supply will drive up prices, pushing farmers to keep on planting.
“People are very imaginative,” Julian Hodaj, the deputy interior minister, said. “To avoid being spotted they might go underground, so we are checking on the sale of lamps and monitoring strange increases in electricity use by factories.”