This study focuses on the organized crime activities in Albania, as well as those conducted by Albanian criminal networks in the region and beyond. The study analyses organized crime activities such as trafficking in persons, illicit drugs and arms, smuggling of migrants, extortion, contract killings, organized cybercrime and money laundering.

Our findings and the opinions of the interviewees suggest that the elements that have stimulated organized crime in the country are of a social, economic and political nature:

  • Transition from a totalitarian regime with a stringent policy on crime, to a fragile democracy with weak and unconsolidated institutions, and staff without sufficient education and/or experience;
  • Chaotic situation post-1997 with the collapse of the pyramid schemes;
  • Institutions that are subject to reform, with staff turnover due to changes in government;
  • Lack of institutional independence, and endemic corruption in the police and law-enforcement agencies;
  • Albania’s favorable geographical position – with drug-producing and supplier countries such as Afghanistan and Turkey in the East, and high-consumption countries in the West;
  • International nature of organized crime and the impact of globalization;
  • Lack of political stability in the country for more than two decades;
  • Weak economy with high levels of unemployment and insufficient earnings per capita (one of the lowest in
    the continent);
  • Dismantling of social structures, adversely affecting the family as the nucleus;
  • Continuous immigration waves, importing experiences and criminal connections obtained abroad;
  • Support from members of the Albanian diaspora;
  • Conflicts in the region, with ‘golden opportunities’ to obtain money from the trafficking of arms, smuggling
    activities, etc;
  • Use of technology and advanced communication tools.

Threat Assessment in Albania, 2017

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Fabian Zhilla

Fabian Zhilla is a Fulbright Visiting Scholar at Center for European Studies at Harvard University. He teaches Law & Ethics at the Canadian Institute of Technology in Albania. Fabian also is a Lead Researcher of the “Study of Organized Crime” Research Unit at Open Society Foundation for Albania since 2014. He received his Ph.D. in Law from King’s College London in 2012 and was previously a Visiting Scholar at Georgetown University and George Washington University. Fabian’s research interest is on organized crime, financial crime, cyber-crime and terrorism in the Western Balkans. His current research focuses on the interplay between organized crime and non-state actors in new democracies.

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