US Ambassador says war on drugs will only end when “big heads” are caught

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times September 16, 2018 10:39

US Ambassador says war on drugs will only end when “big heads” are caught

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  • “Failing to arrest the organizers will cause a comeback of cannabis fields, cocaine and heroin will only increase in the country. Some of them are petty criminals, some of them are politically protected criminals. And this is a serious issue in your country,” Lu said.

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TIRANA, Sept. 16 – US ambassador to Albania Donald Lu said Friday night that the fight against marijuana cultivation and distribution in the country can not be considered complete without arresting the people organizing it.

Ambassador Lu, who will be leaving the country next week at the close of his term, made these comments in a last interview given for Vizion Plus TV’s ‘Real Story’ show.

Albanian authorities claim the phenomenon of cultivation has disappeared in Albania.

“Failing to arrest the organizers will cause a comeback of cannabis fields, cocaine and heroin will only increase in the country. Some of them are petty criminals, some of them are politically protected criminals. And this is a serious issue in your country,” Lu said.

Speaking of the activity of Albanian criminal groups, Lu said the fight against organized crime is a difficult one and will require real sacrifices from the government.

“Two and a half years after the Greek government issued a warrant, we have not yet arrested Klement Balili. It’s scandalous that Lul Berisha is released early from prison and can freely walk the streets of Durres. And it’s scandalous that only this week the trial of Shullazi will take place, when Shullazi himself has threatened judges and prosecutors, so that prosecutors do not even go to court. How is this place to move forward when these things happen? I know that Fatmir Xhafaj and Arta Marku and Ardi Veliu will be judged on whether they will be able to put these criminals behind bars,” Lu further said.

However, he also added it is important the Albanian people realized that their government, police and prosecution are serious when it comes to fighting organized crime and that cooperation with foreign anti-criminal services have lead to the arrest of some dangerous criminals over the last months.

Concerning former General Prosecutor Adriatik Llalla, with whom Lu has had public confrontations with, he said the ex-GP represents many of the officials that tried to hamper the judiciary reform.

“We have praised the decision of the judges to sequester his many unexplained assets and have prompted the country’s judiciary to limit his moves so that he doesn’t run away from justice,” Lu said.

An issue for which the US ambassador has been pronounced several times has been the investigation into former Interior Minister Saimir Tahiri.

“The US government believes that this issue is sufficiently important to deserve to be taken to court by a judge who has passed the vetting and be judged according to evidence, and not according to political pressure. This is what we seek. We support efforts to move forward transparently,” Lu concluded.

 

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times September 16, 2018 10:39