Interpol operation busts biggest Albanian drug smuggling ring

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times September 18, 2020 13:02

Interpol operation busts biggest Albanian drug smuggling ring

TIRANA, Sep. 18 - An international smuggling drug ring involving Albanians was busted by Interpol in an operation conducted in 10 different countries by I.

According to a statement from EUROPOL, the group called "KOMPANIA BELLO", considered one of the most active cocaine trafficking networks in Europe, was cracked after the arrest of 20 of its members. Five members were arrested in Italy, two in the Netherlands, two in Germany, two in Greece, one in Romania, one in Hungary, one in Spain, five in Albania, and another in the United Arab Emirates. Arrests in Albania were made in the cities of Tirana, Vlora, Lezha and Durres. Meanwhile, among the other arrested are 6 other members of the group originating from Albania.

The organization is thought to have set up a completely new trafficking system, unlike previous international cocaine importers, who worked separately from wholesalers and gangs distributing drugs on the streets. The group controlled the entire traffic chain, from organizing large shipments directly from South America to distributing across Europe.

The head of the organization is thought to be a 40-year-old Albanian based in Ecuador. According to the investigation, it turns out that “using sophisticated means of coded communication, the network leader, negotiated directly with drug cartels in South America, organizing large shipments of cocaine to major European ports. With the help of collaborators stationed in Italy, the Netherlands and Albania, the distribution was then organized throughout Europe."

As of criminal activities, the group used an informal delivery system, of Chinese origin, known as the fei ch'ien system. People who use fei ch’ien deposit a sum in an ‘agency’ of this system in a state. Another operator withdraws the equivalent amount elsewhere in the world and passes it to the target recipient. In the absence of evidence, the network is believed, however, to have laundered millions of euros through this system.

The international operation called "Los Blancos", which is assessed by EUROPOL as "unprecedented", has its origins in a 5-year investigation led by the Florence Prosecutor's Office in Italy. Italian authorities cooperated closely with their Dutch counterparts, setting up a joint investigation team. About 4 tones of cocaine and over 5.5 million euros in cash were seized during this investigation.

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times September 18, 2020 13:02