Albanian and Montenegrin organised crime gangs have been implicated in a major drug smuggling operation that was slapped with US sanctions last week.
A company owned by a Libyan national and incorporated in Malta are suspected of smuggling drugs and fuel from Libya to Malta. They worked in collaboration with criminals from Albania and Montenegro as well.
The US froze the assets of a number of individuals they say are involved and is also investigating officials in Maltese state entities. These are said to include the local police force.
The US Treasury Department said the Libyan national and his cargo vessel had been smuggling fuel and narcotics between North Africa and Europe, using Malta as a gateway. According to reports, tons of cannabis and cocaine were smuggled into Europe by those involved.
As well as gangs from Albania, the operation is believed to have involved the Calabrian mafia group “N’drangheta.
In December 2019, the United Nations Security Council raised concerns that a Libyan company was attempting to illicitly import aviation fuel through an Albanian company. They also listed the “Maraya” as a vessel of interest due to suspected illicit activities.
The UN sent two communications to the Albanian government but no answer was ever received.