Violent Albanian gangs 'exerting power' over UK drug trafficking

National crime agency warns small group are having a big impact around the country

(Image credit: PYMCA/UIG via Getty Images)

Violent Albanian gangs are controlling a significant portion of the UK's cocaine market, a law enforcement report says.

In its annual assessment of serious and organised crime in the UK, the National Crime Agency (NCA) says Albanians make up only 0.8 per cent of organised criminals in the UK, but warns they are influential and quick to get involved in serious violence.

NCA deputy director general Matthew Horne said: "It's very much a group that's small in number but big in impact.

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"We have seen an emergence of violence, particularly around enforcing the drug trade, in this group."

London is their "primary hub", but they are established across the UK, reports the BBC.

The gangs are also increasingly expanding their network of influence and forming direct relationships with cocaine suppliers in Latin America.

The NCA adds that Turkish and Serbian crime groups dominate a high volume of the cocaine trade in the UK, while Turkish and Pakistani groups dominate the heroin market.

Corruption among staff at UK ports and airports was a "key vulnerability" in the fight against drug trafficking, continues the report: "Containers and air passengers are the modes most susceptible to the facilitation of Class A drugs by corrupt workers."

It goes on: "Pilots may use foreign registered aircraft (outside the jurisdiction of the Civil Aviation Authority) or aircraft registered to trust companies or to third party addresses that provide a level of anonymity."

The NCA also warns that the purchase of property in the UK presents a significant risk of money laundering.

"Experts described previous estimates of £36 billion to £90 billion for all money laundering affecting the UK as ‘a significant underestimate’, suggesting the amount of cash being illegally laundered in the UK could easily be in excess of £100 billion," says BuzzFeed News.

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