Albanian Daily News
Anti-drug experts meet to coordinate efforts

Albanian Economic Tribune - Jan 26, 2000

TIRANA - Albania’s anti-drug police participated at a meeting of experts from south-eastern Europe in Brussels last week to coordinate the fight against rampant drug trafficking in the region, a police spokesman said on Tuesday.

A group of legal experts and officers of the anti-drug squads met in the Belgium capital, from 16 to 21 January, with their counterparts from six countries in the region: Romania, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Slovenia, Croatia, and Hungary. The meeting was part of a European Commission’s project codenamed Octopus 2, to serve the coordinating of efforts against the booming illegal trafficking in the former communist countries, and the upgrading of anti-drug men professional skills.

Albania was represented in the meeting by a prosecutor from the attorney general’s office, a judge from appellate court in Durres, an anti-drug expert in the Ministry of Order and two representatives from the Justice Ministry. Albania’s police and justice have done a poor job in combating drug trafficking, mainly due to the lack of experience and an incomplete legal background. Corruption among the police is also deterring the fight against drugs.

Anti-drug experts estimate that 90 percent of the narcotics traffic in the region is directed by people of Turkish nationality, while the Albanians - from Albania proper, Kosovo and Macedonia - are ranked second.

Albania has an important position with respect to the drugs traffic, serving as a bridge connecting the east, where the narcotics - mainly heroine - are produced, with Italy in the consumer west. In the country, however, vast areas are planted with marijuana, Cannabis sativa.

Police sources say that the information on the location of these areas is very hard to obtain, and the anti-drug squads lack funds and means to do investigative work or pay informers.

All the police can do is wait for harvest-time and destroy areas with the narcotics plants it has managed to discover.

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