It appears that there are two realities in Albania when it comes to drug trafficking. The reality imagined by Prime Minister Rama and his government, and the reality expressed in countless reports and statements of foreign institutions and crime fighters.
During a meeting to present the new Minister of Interior Affairs Fatmir Xhafaj to the State Police, Prime Minister Rama declared:
After the destruction of the “Republic of Shame” in Lazarat and the extremely meaningful and encouraging results against the cultivation of cannabis in this period, we have all the reasons to consider 2017 as the year i which we put a lid on this long history.
Is it true that the situation has improved as much as the Prime Minister claims?
Foreign sources, reports, governments, international organizations, and media give a very different perspective. We have gathered just a few of the recent findings:
Resolution of the European Parliament, February 2017:
[The European Parliament calls] for the stepping-up measures to eradicate drug cultivation, production and trafficking in Albania and related networks of organised crime, including by strengthening international and regional cooperation; notes, however, that police and prosecutors fail to identify the criminal networks behind drug cultivation;
Statement of the Italian National Anti-Mafia Prosecutor Franco Roberti, February 2017:
Drug cultivation has tripled in Albania.
Report of the US State Department, March 2017:
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.
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.
Report of Europol, March 2017:
Albania is the “main source” for cannabis in Europe.