Enduring Italians, Ambitious Albanians – How Cocaine is Changing Europe’s Criminal Landscape
21 Sep 2021

By Chris Dalby, InSight Crime, 21 September 2021

InSight Crime — Ever greater quantities of cocaine are making their way across the Atlantic and are being sold at ever greater prices across Europe. A new Europol report reveals how this has changed the way organized crime operates on the continent.

In its new Cocaine Insights Report with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Europol has described how the cocaine trafficking landscape has, at once, become more violent and more competitive while also leading to a greater range of alliances between criminal groups.

Here, InSight Crime breaks down three important conclusions of the report.

Rise of the Albanian Mafia

Between 2018 and 2020, 266 people arrested for cocaine trafficking in Europe were Albanian, ahead of 257 Brazilians and 168 Colombians. The next European country to feature on the list was the Netherlands, in eighth-place, with only 51 citizens arrested. The report tracked the presence of Albanian mafia groups in Europe and Latin America. Europol identified an unusual focus on drug trafficking among Albanian groups as opposed to other criminal economies. Ninety-four percent of Albanian criminal groups profiled in 2019 had drug trafficking as their main activity, as opposed to 38 percent of German criminal actors and 30 percent of Turkish gangs.

Profiling a range of criminal operations, Europol and the UNODC found that Albanian traffickers were the main procurers of cocaine at the ports of Antwerp in Belgium and Rotterdam in the Netherlands, controlled much of the British cocaine market, had collaborations with the ‘Ndrangheta in Italy and played a major role in the distribution of cocaine in other major European markets, including Germany, Belgium, Austria, Bulgaria, Greece and Switzerland.

This outsized influence was largely attributed to the ability of Albanian traffickers to forge direct contacts across Latin America. Since 2012, Albanian criminals have established influence in Colombia, Venezuela, Brazil and Ecuador in order to ensure a consistent flow of cocaine, according to the report’s findings.

In January 2021, InSight Crime reported about the murder of an alleged Albanian trafficker in Ecuador and his involvement in the country’s underworld.

Read the original article at InSight Crime

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