Albania to step up war on drugs after critical EU report

Albania to step up war on drugs after critical EU report
By bne IntelliNews June 7, 2017

Albanian Interior Minister Dritan Demiraj said the government would increase its efforts to eradicate drug cultivation and trafficking after the latest European Drugs Report indicated an increase in cannabis trafficking from the country. 

In recent years, Tirana has launched efforts to tackle the problem of drug cultivation, culminating in a military raid on the so-called “cannabis mountain”, where 900 tonnes of the drug was cultivated every year, back in 2014. However, there are unconfirmed reports that cultivation is on the increase again. 

An increase in trafficking of both herbal cannabis and cannabis oil from the western Balkans, in particular Albania, was outlined in the latest report from the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) published on June 6. 

“Recent reports indicate changes in cannabis trafficking routes, with increases in the trafficking of both herbal cannabis and cannabis oil from the western Balkans, notably Albania, linked to increased cannabis cultivation in those countries,” the report says. 

Overall, cannabis products accounted for 38% of the illicit drug retail market in Europe, with an estimated value of around €9.3bn. 732,000 seizures of cannabis products were reported in the EU in 2015. 

On the other hand, the EMCDDA pointed to a sharp decline in seizures of herbal cannabis in 2015 compared to the previous year, which could mean efforts in countries such as Albania to tackle large-scale production are starting to have an impact. 

Demiraj responded to the report on June 6, saying that the government was “deeply committed to bringing Albania out of the map of narcotics cultivation and trafficking”.

This year, the country launched the Action Plan Against Cannabis Cultivation and Trafficking 2017-2020. The ministry has now launched intensive discussions with the police and the heads of the intelligence service and the state prosecution in order to take a more coordinated approach. 

“This war [against drugs] will be extended … to the destruction of criminal groups dealing with narcotics trafficking,” Demiraj said, according to a ministry statement

 

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