Albania Minister Vows War on Drug Barons

New Minister of Interior Flamur Noka on Thursday admitted that stopping the cultivation of drugs was a challenge – but promised a war without tolerance or compromise.“The cultivation of narcotics in the country remains one of the key challenges facing the state police and the community,” Minister Noka told the general directorate of police.“This should be a war without tolerance or compromise until Albania vanishes from narcotics cultivation maps,” he added.

Noka took office only a few days ago, following a government reshuffle after the election of ex-Minister of Interior Bujar Nishani as Albania’s President.In the last six months alone, police in the southern region of Gjirokastra, which borders with Greece, have sequestered 2.4 tones of cannabis grown in the village, while they have seized at least five times more at border crossings.

Most of the seized cannabis comes from the village of Lazarat, known as Albania’s drug capital and a place notorious for its general lawlessness.

According to the 2011 US State Department International Strategy for Narcotics Control report for Albania, the country’s Adriatic Sea ports, porous land borders and under-financed and poorly managed counter-narcotics measures make the country an attractive transit point for drug-trafficking.

Law enforcement in Albania is also under-equipped and vulnerable to corruption.

Cannabis production for the European market continues in the remote mountain regions of Albania, according to the report.

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