Albania collaborates with EU to combat organised crime

23/04/2013

Sharing specialised technology and other co-operation results in more drug arrests, extradition of traffickers and seizure of criminals' assets.

By Erl Murati for Southeast European Times in Tirana -- 23/04/13

photo

Albanian police destroy a cannabis field in the north of the country. [AFP]

International watchdog agencies have long considered Albania a major country for the production of narcotics and their transit into Western Europe, but Albania's increased co-operation with the EU law enforcement agencies is showing results, officials said.

A joint operation with EU police in six countries, dubbed Sotto-Tracia, resulted in the arrest of 34 drug traffickers on April 10th in Albania.

"This is one of the rare cases [where] we co-ordinated our work within minutes to collaborate with Italian prosecutors and EUROJUST," Eugen Beci, head of the Albania Prosecutor's Office for Heavy Offenses, told SETimes.

EUROJUST, the EU agency dealing with judicial collaboration in criminal cases, said the Florence, Italy, district anti-mafia prosecution office initiated Sotto-Tracia in 2010.

"The operation was one of the biggest we have ever planned with international collaboration. The intensified contacts with our EU partners are yielding joint success and the figures are growing. All arrestees ... were caught to be extradited," Beci said.

Increased anti-narcotic co-operation efforts resulted in the Albanian police confiscating 21 tonnes of heavy drugs and marijuana last year, identifying 59 criminal drug groups and arresting and extraditing 78 traffickers.

"All the drug activity took place in EU countries, mainly cocaine transported from the Asian countries to Central Europe," Edmond Rizaj, head of the Anti Narcotics Office in the State Police, told SETimes.

Albania has adopted the Italian model of anti-mafia law, calling for authorities to confiscate assets acquired through organised crime, and is now aggressively putting it into practice.

"In collaboration with the attorney general, we will confiscate the assets of the detained. We are closely collaborating with neighbouring countries," Rizaj said.

Albanian and Italian police also signed a co-operation agreement to fight the narcotics trade, which enabled the transfer of technology to Albania to conduct police operations with greater efficiency.

Albanian authorities can monitor the entire country via two Italian police airplanes that specialise in identifying drug fields. As a result, the Albanian police identified 148 drug plantations and 142 offenders, and arrested 95 of them.

Officials said they are also sending a signal to the 1.5 million Albanian diaspora in Europe not to be misled by organised crime and to integrate in the countries where they now live.

Related Articles

Loading

About 3,500 Albanians are serving time in Italian prisons.

"In recent years, Albanian police have collaborated with police organisations in EU countries and in the region through bilateral or regional agreements. But the police bureaucracies are very slow compared to the impressive and efficient operation of criminal groups," Artan Hoxha told SETimes.

"For as long as the police fail to take away dirty money and crime assets, it will be difficult for the authorities to control and dominate organised crime," Hoxha said.

Will EU co-operation help stamp out organised crime? Tell us what you think below.

This content was commissioned for SETimes.com.
Loading
Vote
 
 
  • Email to a friend
  • icon Print Version
  • Share/Save/Bookmark

We welcome your comments on SETimes's articles.

It is our hope that you will use this forum to interact with other readers across Southeast Europe. In order to keep this experience interesting, we ask you to follow the rules outlined in the comments policy. By submitting comments, you are consenting to these rules. While SETimes.com encourages discussion on all subjects, including sensitive ones, the comments posted are solely the views of those submitting them. SETimes.com does not necessarily endorse or agree with the ideas, views, or opinions voiced in these comments. SETimes.com welcomes constructive discussion but discourages the use of copy-pasted materials, unaccompanied links and one-line slogans. This is a moderated forum. Comments deemed abusive, offensive, or those containing profanity may not be published.

SETimes's Comments Policy

Focus on Ukraine

Reportage

Armies in the Balkans show co-operation in crisis situationsArmies in the Balkans show co-operation in crisis situations

Co-operation demonstrated by armed forces proves valuable in managing natural disasters, experts and officials agree.

SETimes logo

Most Popular

Loading
Loading
Loading

Poll

Militaries in Southeast Europe are working together to help citizens in neighbouring countries during emergencies and disasters. Do you support additional co-operative training to support this mission?

Yes
No
I don't know