Albania was the country of origin of most marijuana for Italian and European markets in 2017 according to a report published last week by the Italian central anti-drug services department.
“Imports of marijuana from Albania have increased significantly, reaching a record of seizures of over 90 tonnes in 2017, compared to 41 tonnes in 2016,” reads the annual report, which adds that “the trend of confiscation in Italy is linked to the cultivation of marijuana in Albania.”
Furthermore, the publication mentions that 2017 marked the case of the “biggest seizure that has ever taken place in the Marche region; equal to eight tons of marijuana that were destined for Northern Europe.”
“The Albanian clans have shown that they have increasing managerial skills in the cultivation and trafficking of marijuana” – the report continues.
According to the Italian anti-drug document, they use highly productive plants and increasingly diversified methods to hide, grow and transport it to the Italian coast.
On the basis of the published data, it is clear that Albanians gangs rank first in the networks of foreign drug traffickers involved in criminal activities, with 25 out of 94 networks in total.
However, Albanian criminal groups did not limit their activity to marijuana trafficking. The report, in fact, also supports the concern that “together with the ndrangheta in Calabria, which thanks to a network of complex international links still has a key role in cocaine trafficking in Italy, some groups of foreign criminals have come to light, composed of Moroccan, Nigerian and Albanian citizens. In particular, the latter, displaying evidence of a qualitative leap in their operational capabilities, compete with other criminal groups for the control of traffic segments in Italy and the management of the distribution networks in the national territory of the main narcotic substances.”
In a statement, the Albanian interior ministry responded to the Italian anti-drug report, assessing it as speculative and flawed.
“Regarding the report of the Italian anti-drug service, the Ministry of the Interior wishes to clarify: Albania is no longer on the list of cannabis growers, as confirmed by the air monitoring report carried out by the Italian Guardia di Finanza, at the end of last year. This is a battle won in 2017 that is consolidating this year where we are implementing the operational protocol for air flights, monitoring the territory together with the Italian police and the EU.
As was also recognized, 2016 was a challenging year for many reasons; the work of the ministry and of the state police has not proved effective in preventing cannabis cultivation. However, all this can not be compared to the worrying dimensions of the phenomenon before 2013, as highlighted by the reports of the Guardia di Finanza.
This is why, following careful and scrupulous scrutiny, the government approved the national anticannabbis 2017-2020 plan, with the involvement of all institutions and international assistance. The state police, moreover, has increased cooperation with its partners, mainly with Italy in joint operations to identify and repress drug trafficking cases.