Is it good or bad news that the US Embassy revealed that the DEA, the American drug enforcement agency, has opened a new reporting line for Albania directly with citizens?
According to law experts, the good thing is American involvement in the drug war. But, it reflects a rising concern that Albania has become a stronghold for criminal gangs involved in international drug trafficking.
“It appears that Albania has actually become a force in drug trafficking,” lawyer Bledar Meminaj said.
The DEA is not satisfied with only official collaborations to obtain information on Albanian-born traffickers. The American agency has issued a WhatsApp phone number and an email address for anyone with information about drug trafficking or organized crime.
“We also have a question about how law enforcement institutions in Albania, particularly the Speciak Prosecution Against Corruption, which was founded with a major focus on organized crime and high-level corruption,” Meminaj says. “Therefore we have either a malfunction in this institution or a problem with the powers of these structures, and we are seeking cooperation from one of the world’s most powerful agencies, such as the DEA.”
Criminal organizations frequently exploit drug trafficking from Latin America to Albania. In 2021, 11 shipments of cocaine totaling 1 ton and 77 kilograms were confiscated in the port of Durres, while 3 shipments totaling roughly 140 kilos were seized in 2022.
The 2022 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report, published by the US Department of State, places Albania in the category of major money laundering jurisdictions, following its participation for the first time in 2017. This classification means that the country’s financial institutions engage in currency transactions involving large sums of money earned through international drug trafficking.