This month has seen an increase in drug finds as well as a worrying rise in murders, most of which are thought to have been committed in the context of the drug trade. During the first 12 days of April, 17,690 kg cannabis was seized, while dozens of attempts were made, 5 being successful.
This brings us to an average of 1.5 tons of cannabis seized per day and one murder every other day.
- April 12: 17 kg cannabis seized in Saranda;
- April 11: 27 kg cannabis seized in Shkodra; 58-year-old killed with knife in Durrës;
- April 10: Elidon Mehmeti killed with 15 bullets in his car in Vlora; explosives found in the car of Bashkim Brahaj, Vlora; two armed robberies in Tirana and Fushë-Krujë.
- April 8: 12 ton cannabis seized in former state warehouses in Pagri, Përmet; 45 kg cannabis seized in Tirana; former police commissioner Artan Cuku killed in Tirana;
- April 7: 1.5 ton cannabis seized by the Greek police, three Albanian traffickers arrested;
- April 5: 52 kg cannabis seized by the border police in Saranda; 9 kg cannabis seized in Qukës;
- April 4: 1.7 ton cannabis seized by the Italian Guarda di Finanza in Karaburun; grandson kills grandmother and then himself;
- April 2: 2,055 kg cannabis seized in Mat; 200 kg cannabis found in a tunnel in Baz;
- April 1: 50 kg cannabis found in Lezha; car explosion in Pogradec;
In spite of these impressive numbers, they also show that the National Drug Action Plan is already failing in terms of its priorities.
The Action Plan against the Cultivation and Trafficking of Cannabis 2017–2020 (PKKK), as it is officially called, claimed that its success would be based on addressing the early cycle of cannabis cultivation:
Different from earlier strategic attempts and practices followed by executive institutions, the PKKK orients the effort of the institutions to the early phases of cannabis cultivation, aiming that success is achieved by preventing the planting of the seeds in the country and to attack the plants in the phase when they are saplings, in closed environments, on relatively small surfaces and close to inhabited zones. […]
The PKKK doesn’t consider the destruction of parcels in a late phase of the cultivation cycle, when the plants are ready for harvesting, a success, but recognizes as successful the prevention of their planting as optimal criterion, or when they are still saplings as acceptable criterion.
All police actions in April revolved around the capture of already harvested and consumption-ready cannabis. No seeds were found, nor were any greenhouses with saplings discovered. It thus appears that the Albanian government is unable or unwilling to intervene meaningfully in the cannabis cultivation cycle, and is, contrary to its own objectives, focusing its efforts and the final phase of the production cycle.