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20 juin 2014

Tonnes of marijuana seized in largest ever Albanian police operation

LYON, France – In one of the largest operations of its kind, Albanian State Police have raided a village in the south of the country known for producing marijuana on a massive scale, seizing tonnes of the drug and arresting more than a dozen people.

In the first five days of the large-scale operation in the village of Lazarat, police seized more than 23 tonnes of marijuana, destroyed some 80,000 marijuana plants, shut down four drug laboratories and confiscated a large quantity of firearms and ammunition.

Hundreds of Albanian police officers are involved in the ongoing operation, which has so far led to the arrest of 15 people on charges of cultivating marijuana, as well as firing weapons at police. More than 130 houses in the village were searched by police, as well as fields in the surrounding areas, where marijuana plantations were set on fire.

Albania is in close contact with INTERPOL and will send the details of all individuals arrested to be checked against INTERPOL’s databases to identify potential connections with other crimes and criminal organizations around the world.

“This operation has sent a strong message that Albania will not tolerate any criminal activities within its borders,” said Glyn Lewis, INTERPOL’s Director of Specialized Crime and Analysis.

“The Albanian police should be applauded for their actions which have dealt a blow to the supply of illegal drugs in the region and are helping to turn back crime in the country,” he concluded.

The operation began some eight months ago with an investigation conducted in collaboration with the Albanian Prosecutor’s Office for Serious Crimes into armed groups in Lazarat suspected of cultivating, manufacturing and selling the illegal drug and of stockpiling weapons.