Albanian police have seized nearly 17 tons of marijuana across the country this week, sources said.
In an operation dubbed Vlora operation in which more than 150 police forces took part, 15 tons of marijuana were discovered in the village of Llakatund in southwestern Vlora region.
The police forces raided three buildings that were packed with marijuana, in addition to cannabis products like chocolates. Police said these were not just holding centers but processing ones as well.
Nine people were arrested, including two local police officers, Avdyl Sinanaj, 56, and Lirim Lamaj, 49, who were charged with abuse of duty and cultivation of narcotic plants.
The police were tipped off to the presence of the drugs by agents of Albania’s intelligence service, SHISH, reported local media.
Another 1.3 tons were seized in Kavaja in two vehicles traveling toward the coastline. Four people were arrested as they tried to get the drugs out of Albanian and into boats headed to Italy.
Albania’s national police chief, Haki Cako, and Interior Minister Dritan Demiraj said there would be a continuing fight against the cultivation of marijuana in Albania.
In 2016, the country saw a record amount of cannabis produced and seized, leading to fears Albania’s state was under siege by drug producers.
Last month, Greek police seized 2.5 tons of marijuana, most of which it said came from the Albanian border. Albanian police say they processed more than 1,800 information items on cannabis cultivation.
According to official data, 14 criminal groups have been hit and 23 operations have been finalized in the framework of the fight against narcotics cultivation and trafficking. These operations were carried out in cooperation with the police of other countries.
Prime Minister, Edi Rama, praised the police operation, but added the state is looking to nail the big fish.
Rama said that all involved agencies should engage strongly to address a significant concern for the public opinion.