Twenty-seven people were arrested in Albania during an operation to dismantle a heroin and cocaine trafficking network destined for European countries, the Albanian police said on Monday.
“Police are still looking for four people, including two Turkish nationals,” police spokesman Gentian Mullai told AFP.
Those arrested “carried out their activities in various European countries in close connection with other criminal organisations”, according to the prosecutor’s office.
They are also suspected of money laundering, says the prosecution in a statement.
During the operation, which mobilised 1,500 policemen in 12 cities, firearms and a “considerable amount of heroin and cocaine” were seized. The drugs are believed to have come from Turkey via Macedonia and Kosovo. Three police officers were also charged with abuse of authority and assistance to the criminal group.
In a separate investigation, 13 people, including two former members of the ruling Socialist Party and two police officers, were arrested for alleged corruption and abuse of power, police said.
Among those arrested were Arben Cuko, former head of the prison administration, who was dismissed in September for alleged corruption, and a former member of parliament, Arben Ndoka, who was suspected of forging papers related to the the sale of public land.
According to the prosecution, the names of the two former parliamentarians arose during wiretapped conversations among suspects.
The operation took place two weeks after the signing of an agreement between the European Union and Albania to strengthen the fight against organised crime.
European Union Ambassador to Albania Luigi Soreca took to Twitter to praise the operation and said the “fight against organized crime and drug trafficking is a top priority for the EU.”
“Now we expect that prosecutions and convictions would follow for a solid track record,” Soreca added.
Former Interior Minister Saimir Tahiri is also being investigated for international cannabis trafficking.