Editorial: Crime is winning

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times September 29, 2017 11:21

Editorial: Crime is winning

Story Highlights

  • Criminal organizations are entrenching and especially transforming some key cities into their fortresses

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In a famous TV series entitled ‘Narcos’, a CIA operative converses with an agent of DEA, the primary agency engaged in the fight against narco- trafficking. The exasperated DEA agent complains that the other agency is not helping to win the war against drugs. With a typical bitter irony the former conversant replies: “Which war? The war on drugs?? We lost that war long ago!”

The Albanian citizen is entitled to feel the same feeling of exasperation and bitterness while watching this week a video showing a skirmish between a police car and a car allegedly in ownership of narco-traffickers. A police car with a high level officer on board is hit by the other car. The police get out but they appear confused, afraid, almost paralyzed and unwilling or unable to do anything while the perpetrators of the incident safely and swiftly get away. They escape into a gated market nearby and the guard does not let the police get in to get them.

This grave incident unfolded in Elbasan, a major city just 45 minutes east of the capital and a major hub in the route of drug trafficking: from East Asia, to Bulgaria and Macedonia through Albania and then onwards to Greece or Italy. The event displays the extreme vulnerability and possible corrupted linkage between police and this crime organizations.  It is a visual cue to a major problem with rule of law, with the inability of the state to exert basic control over its terror and its subjects. On a deeper level it is a signal that the war against organized crime is at high risk of failure.  

This occurrence got a lot of attention in the media with specific talk shows debating at length the alleged crime situation in Elbasan, the competing factions of the organizations fighting for ‘drug territory’ and even the potential corruptive affairs that might exist there involving the municipality, the police etc. according to media analysts the incident is the product of a situation in which the authorities favor or protect one gang at the expense of another. The entire attention of the public debate, media and institutions was captured in this case. All these debates remain the level of allegations, speculations, at best potential explanations or at worst simple conspiracy theories as long as there is no official conclusion of a formal investigative process. However the video as a piece of hard evidence is clear of doubt.  It reveals to everyone a desperate situation where the state kneels in front of the crime.

The response from the police to this incident was in fact very quick and aggressive however many doubt its efficiency. The Special Forces went to Elbasan and many checks were performed especially targeting luxury cars. A few arrests were made. However one cannot fight the power of crime syndicates through routine traffics tops. Making a strong performance and a visible action in front of the citizens has its own merits. It shows that the state is present and reactive. However a much more serious, comprehensive and deep-reaching plan is necessary from policy makers and law enforcement in order to severe the roots that crime is entrenching especially transforming some key cities into their fortresses.

The fight against drug trafficking is the hardest fight for every state in the world. It is particularly difficult in a country like Albania. However a sense of urgency and mobilization beyond what has been done so far is imminent. So far it seems like crime is winning. The state needs to change that for its own sake and for the sake of all its citizens.

 

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times September 29, 2017 11:21