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07 July 2009

Major Ethnic Albanian Criminal Group broken up - 30 suspects arrested

A major Ethnic Albanian Criminal Group involved in extensive trafficking of heroin from the Balkans into Europe has been dismantled after a year-long investigation. Assisted by INTERPOL and Europol, the operation was co-ordinated by Italian and Slovenian law enforcement authorities.

The operation led to the arrest of more than 30 suspects and the seizure of 64 kg of heroin, 5 kg of ephedrine, 1 kg of hashish and 0.5 kg of cocaine. A considerable quantity of weapons, ammunitions and other crime assets were also confiscated.

The arrests were based on extensive international police co-operation and information sharing, the exchange and subsequent analysis of investigative details and co-ordination both at police and judicial level.

Known as Operation GASOLINE, the investigation was initiated by the Italian R.O.S. Carabinieri from Udine, co-ordinated by the Central Directorate for Anti-Drug Services in Rome and under the Direction of the Anti-Mafia National Directorate of Trieste. Simultaneous investigations were activated both in Slovenia and Austria with the aim of dismantling all branches of this criminal syndicate.

Providing a boost to the case was the ‘COSPOL – WBOC initiative’. COSPOL (Comprehensive, Operational, Strategical Planning for the Police) and WBOC (Western Balkans Organised Crime) are multilateral law enforcement instruments under the guidance, support and direction of the European Police Chiefs Taskforce (EPCTF).