From: Alice Taylor
US Department of State: Albania Home Base for Organised Crime in Narcotics Trafficking

The US State Departments’ latest report on narcotics trafficking makes it clear that Albania remains a source country for narcotics and a base for organised crime groups.

A report for the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs looks at a range of countries in the context of drug trafficking and money laundering.

When it comes to drugs, the report states that “Albania is a source country of cannabis and a home base for organised crime groups moving illicit drugs from source countries into European markets.” This includes sending Albanian cannabis to Turkey, which is exchanged for cocaine and heroin that Albanian gangs then smuggle into Europe.

While Albanian authorities reported increased cocaine seizures at Durres port and took part in several cross-border operations, a weak rule of law and corruption still exacerbate the situation.

It noted that Albanian nationals “play an outsized role in the international narcotics trafficking and organised crime networks” and that the country is a crucial element of regional drug trafficking to the UK and Western Europe.

The impact of these activities on Albanian society is severe. The report notes that “Albanian organised crime groups continue to launder proceeds in Albania and contribute to corruption in the country. Violent crime in Albania is often associated with organised crime, and judges, prosecutors, police, and journalists have been subject to intimidation.”

Despite ongoing justice reform efforts, the country must continue to tighten anti-money laundering regulations and oversight and work to erode the influence of organised crime in government and society.

On the topic of money laundering, while some progress in fighting the phenomenon was noted, “much more remains to be done”.

The country remains vulnerable to financial crime due to organised crime gangs, government corruption and gaps in legislation and supervision. This, combined with a large cash economy and significant remittances from abroad, complicates things further. The report said that drug trafficking and organised crime are the primary sources of laundered funds.

Judicial reforms have improved the country’s prospects to address money laundering, but they are still hampered by issues with capacity, supervision, and a lack of cooperation between institutions,