Gang spying scandal highlights Albania’s centrality in EU smuggling routes 

epa08337112 A woman wearing a face mask walks past a CCTV camera while checking her phone in Moscow, Russia, 01 April 2020. The Russian government has approved legal amendments to increase liability for quarantine violators amid the ongoing pandemic of the COVID-19 disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. EPA-EFE/MAXIM SHIPENKOV

Albanian police dismantled over 500 illegal surveillance cameras that were apparently used by gangs to monitor citizens and law enforcement, reports the Financial Times. Discovered during an investigation into an attempted police assassination, the illicit surveillance network serves as a stark reminder of the growing power of criminal networks that operate a globalized shadow economy of drug trafficking and money laundering.

Successive Albania governments have been criticized by US and EU officials for a proposed amnesty for large banks implicated in illicit behavior, slow judicial reforms and loose anti-money laundering rules. Ineffective efforts come despite Albania’s position as a key entry point to Europe for drugs shipped from Latin America through Africa’s Sahel region. 

With its gangs increasingly displaying capabilities once exclusive to the state, Albania risks following in the footsteps of Guinea-Bissau and Paraguay, becoming a key node in global smuggling hubs where the government is effectively subordinated by powerful criminal enterprises.

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