‘Colombia of Europe’: How tiny Albania became the continent’s drug trafficking headquarters
'Albania is no longer a hub of cultivation. It’s become a centre of investment, distribution, and recruitment'1 Feb 2019
The white fishing boat with the green stripe bobs up in down in rough Adriatic waters. Sirens on, the joint Italian-Albanian coast guard zodiacs precariously sidle up alongside, demanding to be let aboard to search the boat’s interior for contraband. The boat operator, dressed in orange jumpsuit, shrugs and complies. Two more guys emerge from the hold.
Once, finding drugs bound for the rest of the Europe inside the boats trawling the sea was simple – just look for the huge bales of cannabis stashed in the cargo hold. But several years ago, the Albanian authorities launched an aggressive eradication effort in the countryside of the small, poor Balkan state, hoping that destroying the cannabis fields and arresting some of the growers would decrease the power of the traffickers, rid the country of its pariah status, and help ease its entry into the European Union.Share this on: