Albania and the United Kingdom to set up task force against organized crime

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After the joint task force against illegal immigration, Albania and the United Kingdom will set up a task force against organized crime. The two states will also conduct joint investigations and exchange information to target criminal groups and seize their assets.

This will be made possible through the memorandum signed between the Special Prosecution Office against Corruption and Organized Crime (SPAK) and the National Crime Agency (NCA) of the United Kingdom. The Director General of this agency, Graeme Biggar, signed the memorandum with the head of SPAK, Altin Dumani, on February 22.

SPAK considers this a historic moment as it is the first agreement the British agency has signed with an investigative structure in Albania.

“The main goal is to institutionalize the partnership between SPAK and the NCA in the joint effort to combat organized crime, money laundering, and corruption of senior public officials,” a SPAK announcement stated.

The memorandum envisages the continuous commitment of both parties to strengthen cooperation, aimed at bringing concrete results in targeting some of the most significant activities of Albanian criminal groups in the United Kingdom and Albania, mainly in drug trafficking, human trafficking, arms trafficking, and money laundering.

SPAK also emphasized that strengthening these relationships has a direct impact on the security and stability of the rule of law in Albania, the United Kingdom, and the European Union. Work will start immediately and will also include aspects related to more advanced financial investigation strategies.

The Director General of the National Crime Agency in the United Kingdom later met with the General Director of the State Police, Muhamet Rrumbullaku. The meeting discussed the establishment of the task force and joint investigative teams as well as the immediate exchange of information to target criminal groups, as well as criminal decisions to seize assets derived from crime.

A few days earlier, the Prime Minister of Albania, Edi Rama, met with the British ambassador in Tirana, Alastair King-Smith. The media announcement emphasized that the ambassador conveyed “the agreement of the British Prime Minister for the United Kingdom to support the next phase of Albania’s efforts for the reform of the rule of law and anti-corruption, including with the state police and judiciary”.

The National Crime Agency in the United Kingdom declared in September last year that Western Balkan criminal groups have gained control over more cocaine and cannabis markets in the country.

British media have often reported cases where Albanian citizens are involved in criminal activities, the proceeds of which they have invested in various forms in Albania.

In December 2022, Albania and the United Kingdom signed a cooperation agreement to address illegal immigration. For this purpose, a joint task force was established, and the return of illegal immigrants began.

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