US puts Albania, Bosnia and Serbia on blacklist of major money laundering countries

By bne IntelliNews March 14, 2017

The US department of state has included Albania, Bosnia & Herzegovina and Serbia in its latest list of major money laundering countries, as their financial institutions have allegedly been involved in currency transactions involving significant proceeds from drug trafficking.

The three Balkan countries have been identified as part of a route for international drug trafficking, but not as major drug producers.

“Albania remains a significant source country for marijuana, as well as a transit route for cocaine and heroin destined for European markets,” the report claims.

It added that while the 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. However, except for marijuana, illegal drug use does not appear to be common.

“Bosnia & Herzegovina is not a major producer or consumer of illegal narcotics, nor is it a producer of precursor chemicals.  It is primarily a transit country, positioned between drug production and processing centres in Southwest Asia and markets in Western Europe,” the report also noted.

According to the data from the US department, drugs are trafficked through Bosnia from Albania, Macedonia, Montenegro and Croatia for storage and eventual distribution throughout Europe. 

“Law enforcement and security institutions in Bosnia & Herzegovina remain limited, and require further enhancements to effectively deter trafficking through the country,” the report recommended.

Regarding Serbia, the report noted that the country remains a transit area for drugs smuggled through its territory into other European markets. 

“According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, between 50 and 60 metric tons of heroin originating from Afghanistan are estimated to transit through Serbia every year along traditional Balkan smuggling routes controlled by multinational criminal organisations,” the report added.

At the same time, small quantities of synthetic drugs such as amphetamine-type stimulants and MDMA (ecstasy) are produced in clandestine labs in Serbia and exported mainly to European Union countries.

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