Euronews Albania’s weekly documentary “Unpublished” investigated the traffic of illegal weapons in Albania. An exclusive tell-all by an illegal arms dealer sheds light on how simple transportation of firearms is in a country ravaged by mob-style slayings.
“I was 19 when I went into this path. It is a delicate age for any youngster who wants to make a lot of quick and easy money and this was the easiest way, arms trafficking. I was watching a lot of movies, but of course, I was also part of a society that is particularly involved in this”, says our character.
The transporter explained how prices vary as he categorizes weapons into two categories: used (or clean), and unused guns.
“I’ve had people coming at me wanting a clean gun so that costs around €1.000-€2.000. The weapon is always sold for double the amount that it was purchased for, considering all the risks carried. I can’t give a fixed price because it depends on what they’re asking for”, says the illegal arms dealer.
He reveals for Unpublished that the most sought for weapons are high precision ones. “Most of them want precise arms, that shoot right in the target and don’t tire you out. You can tell that they want to use them for a shooting, because why else would you want a high precision weapon”, he said.
Experts are increasingly concerned and have raised the alarm as those behind the murders usually recruit young people who get paid small amounts; hence the chain continues to get richer from young people thirsty for more cash.
“Today, unfortunately, contract killers are recruited by people that want to finish off someone. So, they recruit young people for little cash and that’s how they make their own profit. This has turned into a big business”, says former chief of police Emri Vata.
Border patrol officers admit that they have seized a large number of weapons and ammunitions trying to enter the country illegally, however, these figures are comparatively lower than the wider phenomenon.
Experts claim that the problem comes as a result of law enforcement agencies not doing enough to prevent this trade.
“I don’t think that trading routes are the only problem, but the problem rests with the state and law enforcement agencies, for not doing enough to prevent and stop the weapons, which are openly found in the midst of society today”, says Vata.
However, the illegal arms trade is always one step ahead of the police, whereas the weapons are mainly entering from neighbor countries.
Our character recalls a story on how he used the border with Kosovo to transport weapons.
“There are several crossing points at the border, I am speaking about Kosovo in this case because I’ve used that one myself. From what my contacts were telling me, there is only one border point that doesn’t have a lot of patrolling. We waited for a moment of distraction by the police and in a 30-second time fragment, we ran across the border. Then, I walked for about an hour to Gjakova and my contractor was waiting for me there”, he said.
Experts say that this market always finds its own ways to operate, sometimes using other businesses as well. At times, transporters use vehicles or trucks to transport the weapons across the border, taking advantage of the weaknesses in the system.
“There are countless ways to pass illegal weapons through border customs because the system allows them to do that, so for a subject that is clean it displays a green alert, so it doesn’t go through all the border checks. Crime hunts these clean businesses to hide its wrongdoing and transport illegal products be that with or without their awareness”, concluded former chief of police Vata.