Tirana, 3 March 2016/Independent Balkan News Agency
The US State Department has published today its report on the fight against narcotic substances and states that Albania is a major source country for the production of marijuana and a transit point for shipments of cocaine and heroin destined to the European markets.
During 2015, the report says, Albanian authorities carried out several arrests and seized a significant amount of narcotic substances by producers and drug rings that operate in the country, continuing the 2014 tendency. This success is mainly attributed to the ongoing cooperation with Italian authorities and the growing efforts of the political leadership and police.
According to the Albanian police, the report says, during the first ten months of 2015, authorities seized 6,87 tons of marijuana and they destroyed 689,815 roots of marijuana in an area of 44 hectares based on an identification carried out from air by Italian authorities. Authorities also seized 55,3 kg of heroin and 26,4 kg of cocaine.
The annual report of the US State Department on narcotics is prepared for the Congress, in the framework of the law for the assistance to other countries and reflects the efforts of a number of countries to fight all aspects of drug traffic.
The full report on Albania
Albania remains a major source country for marijuana, as well as a transit route for shipment of cocaine and heroin destined for European markets. Albanian authorities recorded an impressive string of arrests and seizures against drug production and trafficking networks operating in the country in 2015, continuing a trend that began in 2014. This success can be attributed to continuing regional cooperation with Italian Police surveillance units and greater commitment by political and police leadership to prioritize counter-drug enforcement. With the exception of cannabis, Albania is not a significant producer of illicit drugs, precursor chemicals, or synthetic drugs. The Government of Albania does not maintain drug-use prevalence statistics. Except for marijuana, illegal drug use does not appear to be common.
According to Albanian State Police (ASP), through the first 10 months of 2015, the volume of marijuana seizures totaled 6.87 metric tons. An ongoing nationwide eradication effort also destroyed 689,815 marijuana plants on 44 hectares of land as identified by Italian surveillance overflights. The ASP also seized 55.3 kilograms (kg) of heroin and 26.4 kg of cocaine.
The ASP, including border police, arrested 827 people for offenses linked to drug trafficking over the first 10 months of the year. Through September, the Serious Crimes Prosecution Office (SCPO) investigated 188 criminal proceedings for narcotics trafficking. Of this total, 105 were cases carried over from previous years, with 81 cases registered for the first time in 2015. The SCPO sent 40 cases to court, and the Serious Crimes Court rendered 68 guilty verdicts, including cases that were resolved from previous years.
Albania continues to receive assistance from the United States and European Union countries to enhance its counternarcotics capacities. The government implemented 31 joint operations with international law enforcement agencies through October, mostly in cooperation with Italian authorities. The United States continues to provide assistance for integrated border management with a focus on maritime border control, counternarcotics investigations, and judicial sector assistance programs. To reduce demand for illegal drugs, with U.S. support, the ASP and the Albanian Education Ministry continued to co-sponsor a drug-awareness and demand reduction project in 300 public elementary schools, reaching over 30,000 students. /ibna/