A man wanted for his alleged involvement in multi-tonne cocaine importations from South America to Germany has been arrested by the National Crime Agency.
The 44-year-old man was apprehended this morning (Wed 16 June) after NCA officers tracked him down to an address in Woolwich, South East London, on behalf of the Bundeskriminalamt in Germany.
He is believed to have a significant role in an Albanian and German organised crime group behind cocaine importations over a number of years.
The police say they have associates in South America and across Europe to facilitate the movement of drugs.
Deputy Director Andrea Wilson, from the National Crime Agency, said: “This man has gone to great lengths to evade law enforcement both in Germany and the UK, which included using the encrypted comms platform EncroChat to communicate with his associates.
“His arrest is the culmination of great collaborative work between the NCA and our colleagues in the BKA, and highlights how we are working together with partners to target and dismantle the organised crime groups responsible for bringing drugs to our streets.
“We know that Western Balkan crime groups have a presence at all stages of the cocaine supply chain, from South America to the UK. They play a significant role in the wholesale movement of cocaine, and we will not stop in our endeavours to identify those involved and disrupt their activity.”
From The Source To The Street
Uk police have said Albanian gangs have become dominate due to the organisation.
The NCA have revealed gangs are controlling the market from the South American source all the way down to UK street deals.
This example last year of a gang who making over half a million in sales in a English town.
Five men have been jailed after police busted their lucrative cocaine home-delivery racket in Tunbridge Wells.
The Albanian gang set up 24-hour phone lines to take orders and courier the drugs.
Customers ordered cocaine via the hotlines, giving their postcodes for delivery to their doorsteps.
Their loyalty made it hard for police to crack the group.
They took turns to run the line like shift patterns.
But now the hang has been jailed for 6 years each for their roles.
UK VIA SPAIN
Britain’s NCA work with European colleagues to combat the Albanian gangs from bringing in the drugs from South America via Spain to the UK.
A recent example of this is in the Bilbao port in Spain, a total of 1,400 kilos of cocaine hidden in containers.
Follow The Money
The Civil Guard and the Tax Agency in the framework of a joint operation have seized 1,397 kilos of cocaine in two consecutive operations carried out in March and May in the port of Bilbao.
As the contents was being unloaded, the existence of a series of undeclared bundles that resembled those used to transport narcotic substances were found.
Inside the first container they find a large number of packages were hidden containing the substance that turned out to be cocaine.
The 1,397 kilos seized would have reached a value higher than 86 million euros in the illicit market.
The investigations continue open, they are not ruling out future arrests.
According to the European Observatory on Drugs and Drug Addiction, containers are one of the main maritime channels for the introduction of cocaine into Europe.
Two thirds of the cocaine seized on the continent has traveled by sea.
Spain is listed as one of the hottest spots in these entries.
It is introduced mainly by sea, using ingenious methods such as the so-called ‘lost hook’, taking advantage of companies that carry out legal activities and even camouflaging the drug within merchandise such as pieces of fruit, canned food or metal cylinders.
Control And Power
Albanians make up just 0.8 percent of all organised criminals in the UK – a small minority compared to Romanians (1.5 percent) and British nationals (61.6 percent).
“while the numbers involved are relatively small, the impact of these groups is significant,” NCA deputy director general Matthew Horne told BBC Radio 4, according to the Guardian.
He said that Albanian gangs are making tens of thousands of pounds in cocaine transactions every week and, since they readily use violence to enforce their business model, pose a significant threat.
“We are concerned that there are innocent bystanders in this,” said Horne, according to the Guardian.
The annual report, titled the “National Strategic Assessment of Serious Organised Crime 2019”, also says that Serbian and Turkish groups dominate maritime cocaine trafficking.
Romanian groups are collaborating with Mexican counterparts to import cocaine from Europe in heavy goods vehicles.
It claims that Balkan criminals, and Albanians in particular who operate primarily from London are “increasingly expanding their network of influence.
They are forming direct relationships with suppliers in Latin America.
1.5 Tonne seizure
Rather than go through traditional European hubs, Colombian cocaine is now being shipped directly to the UK.
As for heroin trafficking, Turkish and Pakistani groups continue to dominate the market by both land and sea.
Lithuanian gangs are also establishing a greater control in the UK drug market, the report says, since they have ready access to firearms and are able to smuggle cash on a substantial scale.
The NCA report also highlights the rise in cybercrime, human trafficking and serious fraud committed by organized crime – which it claims could cost UK residents as much as £193 billion (US$ 250 billion).
“Criminal networks themselves are diversifying and it is not uncommon to find the same groups involved in trafficking people or illicit commodities, using the same methods or infrastructure,” Horne said in a statement.
According to the report, corruption of border workers at seaports and airports is a serious problem in tackling the international criminal drug trade.
This connection was shown in a recent story I covered on the “Messi” drug gang in Spain who worked at the docks and was infamous for importing.