US State Dept: Albania Haven for Money Laundering and Drug Trafficking

In its 2017 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report, the US Department of State has included Albania both as major money laundering and drug trafficking country.


According to the report, Italian authorities seized 9.3 metric tons of marijuana from Albania in 2015, whereas 767.5 kg of heroin was captured, trafficked from Bulgaria, Greece, and Albania.

In 2016, the Albanian State Police seized 30.14 metric tons of marijuana, eradicating nearly 2.5 million cannabis plants. Moreover, 57.33 kg of heroin and 7.16 kg of cocaine were seized in the same year.

According to the report

Albania remains a significant source country for marijuana, as well as a transit route for cocaine and heroin destined for European markets. While Albanian authorities reported an increase in arrests and destruction of cannabis plantations in 2016, there were also reports of increased cannabis cultivation within the country.

Money laundering

Much of the money involved in drug trafficking is also laundered in Albania, despite it not being “a regional financial or offshore center.”

The country remains at significant risk for money laundering due to rampant corruption and weak legal and government institutions. Albania has a large cash economy and informal sector, with significant money inflows from abroad in the form of remittances. Major proceeds-generating crimes in Albania include drug trafficking, tax evasion, smuggling, and human trafficking. Albania has a substantial black market for smuggled goods, and smuggling is facilitated by weak border controls and customs enforcement. Albania produces and exports significant amounts of marijuana, primarily for European use, and is a transit country for Afghan heroin and cocaine, serving as a key gateway for heroin distribution throughout Europe. Albania serves as a base of operations for regional organized crime organizations. Illicit proceeds are easily laundered.

The State Deparment further notes that “Real estate (particularly in the coastal areas), business development projects, and gaming are among the most popular methods of hiding illicit proceeds.” All these types of project have seen significant increases during the Rama regime. And “[w]hile the Government of Albania passed criminal code reforms and legislative amendments in 2012, implementation efforts have been weak.”