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Men of Purpose: The Growth of Albanian Criminal Activity

NCJ Number
Transnational Organized Crime Volume: 2 Issue: 1 Dated: (Spring 1996) Pages: 1-20
G Xhudo
Date Published
20 pages
Since 1989, the demise of Communism in Eastern Europe and the disintegration of Yugoslavia have been accompanied by an increase in criminal activity in the Balkans; in particular, criminal organizations in Albania have established a network throughout Western Europe and have coordinated their activities with supportive emigre communities and other groups on both sides of the Atlantic.
The evidence suggests four main factors that explain why organized criminal organizations in Albania have managed to rise so quickly and with such success: undercover operations against the Italian Mafia in the United States, development of a sense of collective identity among Albanians to mobilize and coordinate their activities, difficulties in the process of democratization, and use of Albania as a heroin trafficking route after civil war disrupted the heroin trade through Yugoslavia. Criminal organizations in Albania recruit individuals carefully, and many government personnel are believed to be directly linked to these organizations. The structure of criminal organizations suggests a hierarchical chain of command that is intricate and based on the Sicilian Mafia's system of bosses and under-bosses. The cell or crew is at the core of Albania's organized crime structure. The nature and extent of criminal group actions have increased in both scope and intensity since 1990. Of particular concern to U.S. law enforcement personnel is the increased level of organized Albanian criminal activity in the United States. The Albanians are disciplined, have not overextended themselves in criminal activities, and have not turned on their own people among emigre communities. These characteristics, along with a reputation for brutality with impunity, have resulted in the continued success of Albanian criminal operations and further secrecy surrounding the criminal organizations themselves. 72 notes