The war against drugs remains a big challenge for Albania, independent analysts say

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times June 3, 2018 17:30

The war against drugs remains a big challenge for Albania, independent analysts say

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  • The early-on cannabis cultivation and its preserved stocks also occupied a big part of the EU Commission’s progress report, which called for the destruction of old stocks and the curbing of new plants’ cultivation.

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TIRANA, June 3 – Albanian police reported on Sunday that cultivation of narcotic plants in the country has dropped three times, however independent criminal observers claim there are still huge stocks of hidden drugs that were cultivated over the years waiting to be sold.

Recently, Albanian police arrested three people in Kruja suspected of cultivating 2,080 narcotic plants in a parcel that was burned in the middle of a forest in Krasta.

In this context, analysts say the war against drugs in Albania is still a big challenge.

The Kruja arrests marked the end of “Krasta 2” – a several-month operation which, in addition to the three arrested, concluded with one more person being investigated in a free state for non-denouncement of a crime.

According to official police data, the cultivation of narcotics this year, as opposed to the same period last year, has fallen over three times by parcel, going from 76 to 23 parcels, and has fallen over nine times by number of plants, going from 24,000 to 2,500 narcotics.

“The presence of new parcels testifies the cannabis cultivation phenomenon is still present in the Albanian territory and has not disappeared altogether – it continues in smaller portions. We have a shift from cannabis cultivation in areas known as hotspots to areas where police attention is smaller,” Armand Bajrami, television reporter and crime analyst told local media.

In the past few months only, 23 parcels with approximately 2,500 narcotic plans were found. The police has reported it has carried out about 70,000 searches in territories, open spaces, former military facilities, greenhouses, warehouses and abandoned homes.

Different reporters and analysts covering this field have different views on the country’s prevailing criminal activity of the past decade.

“Regarding the number of people prosecuted for this criminal offense, I can say that about 12,700 people were imprisoned, held in house arrest or charged with other measures for allegations of drug cultivation and trafficking last year. While this year’s numbers are yet to be published,” Klodiana Lala, 24-year-old journalist and criminal-life analyst, said.

Air checks by Italy’s Guardia di Finanza also began earlier this year, where out of 29 flights and 17 air monitoring reports, no narcotic plants were found.

“The obvious danger is the displacement of narcotic plants from open spaces, where they’ve been planted so far, in closed spaces, under artificial conditions, in tunnels forgotten by the military. I think state police should now pay more attention to these closed terrains were narcotics can be cultivated in artificial conditions because of police operations in outdoor environments,” Bajrami added.

The police has reportedly set up several hundred groups carrying out thousands of checks daily and, except for Krasta, they have found parcels in Kruja’s Nikël and Përmet’s Frashër villages, where 1,800 narcotic plants were destroyed and one person was arrested.

“Significant amounts of cannabis have also been found in Greece and Italy in recent months, trafficked from Albania, where they were cultivated a long time ago. Police numbers show a drastic decline of cannabis cultivation, but traffickers are actually using deep mountainous areas such as Shkodra, Vlora, Gjirokastra or Tepelena to continue their criminal activity. They are now using closed environments, like greenhouses, to cultivate it,” Lala said.

Thirteen people suspected of cultivation have been arrested the past five months, while six people are wanted and five are being prosecuted freely. The police is also investigating four community administrators and forest inspectors for “misuse of office” and “non-declaration of a crime.”

The early-on cannabis cultivation and its preserved stocks also occupied a big part of the EU Commission’s progress report, which called for the destruction of old stocks and the curbing of new plants’ cultivation.

“Another challenge for the state police was also included in the Commission’s report published in April, which called for an increase in the anti-trafficking war and the destruction of the large cannabis stocks, accumulated by the massive cultivation of recent years. Eradicating these stocks remains one of the biggest challenges of the state police,” Bajrami highlighted.

Currently, the government says it’s been doing its best in the fight against drugs, despite the opposition continuously claiming the cabinet has strong ties with criminal groups which cultivate and traffic, making it impossible to completely fight drugs in Albania.

 

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times June 3, 2018 17:30