Albania and drugs: increasing activity in Greece, UK

Photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Connie Terrell

Albanian gangs seem more active now a days in a few places, remarkably Greece and the UK. An Albanian woman whose identity has remained anonymous was arrested by Greek police on Saturday, and was labeled as the head of a drug smuggling network.

According to the sources, she was arrested during an anti-narcotics raid and was subject to a long investigation session.

Following investigations, the police reported that the woman has been using her house as a place to store narcotics. They found around 42 kg of Cannabis Sativa during the arrest. Also, two electronic weight measurement devices and two mobile phones were confiscated.

On another note, the National Crime Agency (NCA) in the UK has said that its concern about violent Albanian criminal gangs is on the rise, especially since these gangs seem to have an upper hand over the illegal cocaine market.

The NCA warned that Albanian gangs have “established a high-profile influence within UK organized crime”. Their main focus is the often violent trade in trafficking cocaine to London, the report underlined.

The report says Albanians make up just 0.8% of organized criminals in the UK, behind British nationals (61.6%); unknown nationalities (23.5%); Romanians (1.5%); Pakistanis (1.2%) and Polish (0.9%). But it warns that the impact of Albanian criminals was particularly troubling because of their readiness to use serious violence.

Each month exposes a new smuggling operation involving men, women and children from Albania. In June, the Observer reported that Albanians are one of the largest groups of illegal immigrants in the UK.

The Observer reported: “Officially, the UK is home to about 20,000 Albanians. But more are known to have entered, having pretended to be Kosovans fleeing the war in Yugoslavia.

“We are seeing significant control being exerted particularly by organized crime from Albania in so far as cocaine in particular is concerned … You are talking about tens of thousands [of pounds] generally in transactions every week,” said Matthew Horne, the deputy director general of NCA. This increase of illegal infiltration has also complicated the situation and caused more Albanians to join the drug dealing gangs.

Since a few years, Albania, a small country in southeastern Europe, has become the epicenter of the European drugs trade, especially marijuana. This region of the Balkans has long been the trailhead for illicit goods, weapons and drugs hiking into the heart of Europe.