From: Exit Staff
Interior Minister Says 2020 Successful in Fight Against Crime

Interior Minister Sander Lleshaj stated that 2020 has been a successful year for the State Police.

Speaking today in the plenary session, Lleshaj said the country has had fewer homicides this year, while police have cracked down on 30 criminal groups:

“In 2019, 58 murders were registered and 44 in 2020. The murder rate per 100 thousand inhabitants is 1.7 when compared to 1.2 in the EU.

In 2020, 30 criminal groups were hit. We have made it possible to arrest people from notorious criminal groups.”

It’s likely that the decreased number of homicides could be related to the fact that Albania was in lockdown for more than two months.

While talking about the fight against cannabis, Lleshaj said that in 2020 more narcotic plants were destroyed than a year ago. The fight against cannabis in 2020 has also marked the most positive results in the last 30 years:

“As for cannabis, I want to tell you that the fight against it has marked the highest results in the last 3 decades. In 2020 it has increased the level of control in the territory. More narcotic plants have been destroyed this year than a year ago.”

The Minister did not mention where he had got this information and data from.

As Exit  has reported before, Lleshaj has made a number of similar claims recently but has not provided sources for his data.

The facts are that Albania is 6th globally for cannabis resin imports to Europe according to the World Drug Report from the United Nations. This covered a time frame between 2014 and 2018. During this time, it declined but was then on an upward trajectory from 2018.

Earlier this year, the Italian Antimafia division reported for 2019 that Albania is Europe’s main marijuana source. It also said the country is a key transit point. for heroin coming in from Afghanistan and Central Asia. It added that revenue from these activities is often reinvested into Albania in tourism and construction.

RAI3 also reported that cultivation of cannabis in Albania had increased by 1200% in the last year (2019). Albanian authorities vehemently denied the accusation, made by Italian Prosecutor Giacomo Cataldi and reported by journalist Valerio Cataldi.

The Belgrade Centre for Security and Policy predicted that cannabis cultivation in Albania would increase due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This would be due to a lack of police supervision as their work is directed elsewhere. It noted that cannabis is still “very much present on the market” in the region.

Europol also echoed this prediction. It noted that Albania, “a producer of herbal cannabis for the European market” was likely to produce more of the drug due to law enforcement resources being diverted to managing the pandemic.

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