Tirana, March 19 (Tirana Echo) – 39 people have been arrested in Albania over smuggling people towards the EU, US, Canada and the UK, after several months of international police cooperation and investigation.
The successful Albanian police operation coded “One If – By Land” was closely coordinated with US authorities, Canadian emigration police, Europol, Interpol and police authorities of Kosovo, France, Spain, Bulgaria and Italy.
The Albanian police said the investigations found 7 well structured criminal groups operating across Albania, Bulgaria, Spain, France, Dominican Republic, Italy, UK, Ireland, USA and Canada.
“They have enabled the trafficking of around 1000 Albanian citizens towards the UK, Ireland, USA and Canada. Every person had to pay 7000 Pounds to enter the UK and $25,000-$30,000 USD for the US and Canada. Members of these criminal groups would help Albanian citizens to illegally emigrate through falsified travel documents and fake identities in the EU”, – said Ardi Veliu, General Director of the Albanian State Police in a press conference .
Meanwhile, among the arrested there are also 4 border police from Albania while the state police are looking for another 12 additional people involved in the international smuggling ring.
Albania is crippled by high levels of corruption and drug trafficking. Fighting organized crime as well as illegal drugs & human trafficking are top priorities on the country’s EU agenda. The small Balkan country, also a NATO member, hopes to open accession talks with the EU this year, which would pave the road for full eventual EU membership.
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