Already seventeen years ago, the concerns of our security services about Albanian crime in the country had been expounded in an articulate report of the Investigative Anti-Mafia Directorate (DIA) entitled “The Albanian Hazard.” At that time there was talk of gangs but also of “clans that had a mafioso character” and it was shown that they had taken root in territories left behind by Italian crime. It also warned of “signals that bring us to believe that Albanians are beginning to occupy spaces even in the strongholds of organized Italian crime.” Likewise, in the specific chapter on narcotics, in a section of “conclusions,” the report spoke of an “evolution towards genuinely mafioso models of Albanian criminal organizations involved in drug trafficking” with the consequence of making police activities in general more difficult.
In short, the weakening of the clan and family affiliations, always very strong in Albania, which characterized the first Albanian criminal cells settled in Apulian territory as the volume of “business” increased, was the signal that Albanian crime would evolve into more developed criminal organizational structures.
The analysis was definitely valid and today Albanian crime “turns out to be consolidated” in various Italian regions, starting from Puglia, a territory that “still represents a compulsory entry point for illegal traffic from Albania and the Balkan area in general. ” In this regard, the most recent DIA report of 2016 shows that there were 280 Albanians detained in the Italian prisons for mafia-type offenses such as drug and contraband trafficking, coming in second after the Romanians.
The experience gained in narcotics trafficking, in particular marijuana and heroin, has allowed Albanian criminal groups to become major providers of such drugs in relations with Italian organized crime. In some cases, they also managed to carry out the processing and refinement (in 2016, the police forces identified three laboratories, one in the province of Bergamo, one in Padua, and one in the province of Bari, destined for the refining of the narcotics).
The most recent Balkan drug operation of the police of Dubrovnik and the Guardia di Finanza of Como who, the investigations for which started in 2012, resulted in the seizure of one ton of marijuana in Catania, and the investigation of 60 people for international drug trafficking, including 37 Albanians.
The other area of criminal interest for Albanians, according to the DIA, is the exploitation of prostitution, which “continues to be accomplished through established schemes following the general tendency to autonomous management of the whole chain, without completely precluding cooperation with other groups or criminals, especially Romanians.” Numerous police operations have highlighted the trend toward more and more organized and “industrial” management of this phenomenon, which begins with direct recruitment in Albania by the same people that take care of the exploitation in Italy and continuing with the logistic predisposition to follow aggregation and control the activities of the women who are constantly “turned over” in various cities, with frequent displacement from city to city. There is frequent use of coercive and violent means to set “examples” and to suppress any “insubordinate” behavior.
This is on the whole a rather bleak picture destined to get worse due to an “evolution of the criminal policies of Albanians toward increasingly complex forms of crimes also with the collaboration of Italian criminals,” even in the arms and explosives trade.
Previously published by Antimafia.