New Proof of Albania’s Major Role in European Drug Trade

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That Albania has become Europe’s focal point for the smuggling of illegal drugs on a massive scale over the past decade is an open secret — one I have discussed many times. Unfortunately, most Western media outlets avoid plainly stating the difficult truth that a U.S. ally and NATO member is a full-fledged narco-state.

Still, more evidence for this reality keeps surfacing.

Last year, I revealed that BILD, the German tabloid that’s Europe’s biggest-circulation newspaper, killed a story that exposed connections between Albania’s Socialist Prime Minister Edi Rama and transnational organized crime syndicates. This failure to report contrasted with BILD‘s reputation for aggressive investigative reporting and hinted at fears that German and American political elites had painful secrets to hide.

Now, BILD has rediscovered its courage.

It just ran an exclusive report titled “Cocaine – How the white poison gets to Germany.” It documents how Albanian mafia gangs play a significant role in smuggling cocaine from South America to Europe, mainly through Antwerp, Rotterdam, and Hamburg, often via circuitous routes including West Africa, Spain, Greece, and, inevitably, Albania. The drugs are usually hidden in shipments of fruit, especially bananas, and frozen fish. Mafia speedboats, often crewed by Albanians, distribute the “white poison” across Europe with help from truckers and other low-level smugglers. BILD quotes Nancy Faeser, Germany’s interior minister: “Albanian organized crime, with its connections to South America, is a particular focus for our investigators.”

The report adds that German investigators know that 32 Albanian organized crime groups control Europe’s cocaine trade at every level, from production to illicit shipment, to international smuggling, right down to street dealing. This efficient distribution system, which touches nearly every corner of the continent, has flooded Europe with cocaine. Currently, a hit of the drug costs slightly less than a mug of beer in a German bar. Despite the low street price, the mafia’s profits are astounding. Criminals buy a kilo of cocaine in South America for $2,500 and sell it across Europe for up to $80,000, a profit ratio exceeding 3,000%.

BILD then went further with a segment titled “Albania, the narco-state on our doorstep,” which, based on information from Western officials, describes Albania as “the nerve center of Europe’s cocaine mafia.” It continues: “Mafia murders have long been a daily occurrence in Albania, with more than a hundred in 2021 alone.” Noting that Albanian mobsters thrive in Germany due to political connections, the report adds that German federal police, the country’s equivalent of the FBI, have deemed the problem so serious that they have established a special group just to combat ethnic Albanian organized crime — some of the Albanian mafiosi are from Kosovo, not Albania proper. So far, more than 320 people have been indicted for alleged crimes related to drug smuggling, while German police have seized 2.8 tons of cocaine plus nearly a ton of marijuana, hashish, and heroin.

The problem, BILD observes, is that “The narco-mafia has connections in Albanian politics up to the highest levels.” It minces few words: “German and international investigators also have the family of Prime Minister Edi Rama in their sights. His brother Olsi Rama is under investigation relating to a major cocaine trafficking ring operating in the German city of Hannover.”

Then the report enters territory familiar to Truth Voices readers: “Prime Minister Edi Rama is himself a subject of inquiry, according to American court documents, for bribing the head of FBI counterintelligence in New York, Charles McGonigal, with a $250,000 payoff.” Now that McGonigal has been sentenced to prison for taking that dirty Albanian money, the Washington establishment, including the embarrassed FBI, is content to let the scandal fade away.

Somehow, none of this criminality has hurt Albania’s reputation with the European Union, which the Balkan country seeks to join. As BILD records, despite the dubious activities of the Rama family and its mafia friends, Albania is in the process of receiving 15 billion euros worth of development aid from the EU this decade. Sometimes crime does pay, it seems.

Nevertheless, the willingness of a major European newspaper to publish the truth about the pivotal role of little Albania in the global illegal narcotics trade constitutes a step in the direction of honesty and combating organized crime. If American media now develop a similar interest in examining Albanian connections to U.S. political elites, including the Biden administration, which possesses a hard-to-explain tolerance for the Rama clan, that would be welcome.

John Schindler
John Schindler
John Schindler is a security expert and former National Security Agency analyst and counterintelligence officer. A specialist in espionage and terrorism, he's also been a Navy officer and a War College professor. Schindler has published four books.

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