By Deirdre Tynan •
Published: 01 Sep 2021 • 12:54
Image: Stock photo
An organised criminal network composed mainly of Albanian-speaking criminals, suspected of illegally trafficking drugs, has been dismantled with the support of Europol.
Some 107 persons were arrested during an action day on July 13 which involved law enforcement authorities in Spain, Germany and Albania.
The criminal group is believed to have been managing cannabis plantations in Spain where they cultivated and processed the marijuana, before it was transferred to other European countries for further distribution.
On the action day, some 400 police officers on the ground carried out simultaneous raids in 42 different locations in Spain, Tarragona, Barcelona, Girona and Castellon. An additional nine searches were carried out a few days later.
These property searches led to 107 individuals arrested, including Albanian, Spanish, Slovak and Greek nationals; 51 cannabis farms uncovered; 25,000 cannabis plants seized; and €70 000 in cash and two-high end vehicles seized.
This clan-based organised crime group was hierarchically structured, with branches operating internationally. Some of its members arrested have a history of drug trafficking in different countries.
The criminals were diverting the electricity supply to illegally cultivate the plants indoors. It is estimated that the stolen electricity amounts to over €1.6 million in lost utility revenue.
Europol supported this investigation by providing tailored expertise and extensive analysis support and facilitating the exchange of information through its secure channels. On the action day, a virtual command post was set up by Europol to ensure seamless coordination between all the authorities involved. One of its experts was deployed on-the-spot to Spain to allow for crosschecks against Europol’s databases of the data gathered in the course of the action.
Three Albanian investigators were also deployed to Spain in the framework of the Project IPA2019 aimed at countering serious organised crime in the Western Balkans.
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Deirdre Tynan is an award-winning journalist who enjoys bringing the best in news reporting to Spain’s largest English-language newspaper, Euro Weekly News. She has previously worked at The Mirror, Ireland on Sunday and for news agencies, media outlets and international organisations in America, Europe and Asia. A huge fan of British politics and newspapers, Deirdre is equally fascinated by the political scene in Madrid and Sevilla. She moved to Spain in 2018 and is based in Jaen.
“These property searches led to 107 individuals arrested, including Albanian, Spanish, Slovak and Greek nationals”. So why “Albanian gang”?
Hi Roland, Europol identified them as an “organised criminal network composed mainly of Albanian-speaking criminals.”
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