A few days ago, the Vlora police seized 1 ton of cannabis and the two sailors transporting the drugs with an Italian sailing boat called Nino Nini. The two arrested men are an Albanian and an Italian called Giovanni Palladino.
It is the first time that the police has seized a sailing boat as a means of transporting cannabis. In fact, drug traffickers have so far always used fast motorboats in order to escape the Albanian police and the Italian Guardia di Finanza.
Using a sailing boat, even though slower, has a lot of advantages, especially during summer. They can approach the coast without making noise, they have a large loading capacity, and are cheap to use, which is important now that the prices for cannabis have dropped considerably after the overproduction of 2016.
The usage of sailing boats, a clean and sporty symbol, for illegal activities has many precedents. It suffices to recall the Italian Red Brigades, who sailed to Lebanon to pick up guns for their actions in Italy.
If this trend continues, however, it could spell problems for the development of naval tourism in Albania. Increased controls of sailing boats and yachts may discourage those very few who venture out on the Albanian waters. This also has historical precedent, as a moratorium on any boats with a capacity of more than 25 horsepower were prohibited, including sailing boats, which nonetheless did not impair the drug traffic from the country.
As the economic saying goes, “bad money drives out good money.”