Albanian Police Arrest 27 in Heroin Trafficking Crackdown

Albanian State Police police said Monday they arrested 27 suspects, seized weapons, charged three officers and confiscated drugs in a major crackdown against heroin trafficking.

Albanian State Police during a 2015 drug raidAlbanian State Police raid a drug operation in 2015Some 1,500 officers conducted raids in 12 towns on Sunday targeting four organized crime groups that allegedly traffic heroin to Germany. Apart from the 27 detained, six suspects were declared wanted.

Three State Police employees were also implicated and charged with abuse of office and helping criminal organizations.

The crackdown comes two weeks after Albania and the EU signed an agreement to strengthen coordination in the fight against organized 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.

As part of the same operation, police seized a heroin lab on Thursday and found 182.5 kg of morphine ready to be turned into heroin. The drugs had come from Turkey via Macedonia and Kosovo, the national police chief said.

The Serious Crime Prosecution Office started investigating the trafficking organizations in 2016, resulting in thousands of hours of wiretapped conversations, video surveillance and drone footage.

On Sunday, police also arrested two former MPs from the Socialist Party as part of their efforts to fight organized crime and corruption.

Arben Cuku was arrested for taking bribes during his time as prisons chief and Arben Ndoka for being part of a criminal group that falsified documents to buy state-owned land in expensive coastal areas.