Albania remains a “main source” of cannabis imports to the European Union, according to the Europol 2021 SOCTA report on organized crime.
The report noted that criminal networks engaged in trafficking are highly organized and are surrounded by a network of individuals engaged in criminal activities. A large share of the cases reported to Europol, also feature fatal and serious violence related to drugs, it continues.
As other reports have highlighted, it’s not just the export of drugs from Albania to the EU that’s a problem. Criminals involved in the drug trade are also exporting their operations into the EU and the UK.
Europol notes one case of a group of Albanian nationals in Spain who were involved in the “large-scale production of herbal cannabis”. The police were tipped off to their operation following a EUR 1.5 million electricity bill which led them to five illegal herbal cannabis plantations.
Other findings of the report included the fact that close to 40% of organized crime networks in the EU are involved in the drug trade. Some 60% use violence as a part of their operations. It also noted that “the use of corruption and abuse of legal business structures are key features of serious and organized crime in Europe.
More than 80% of criminal organizations use legal business structures to mask and facilitate their crimes, according to the report.