Trying to live down its reputation as Europe's top pot producer, Albania two months ago officially declared itself "marijuana-free," with Interior Minister Saimir Tahiri boasting that 99.2% of cannabis plants seen on aerial maps had been destroyed. That made for a total of 690,000 plants covering 44 hectares (109 acres), Tahiri said. After a series of paramilitary-style raids on the fertile valley towns where cannabis cultivation had become the economic mainstay, the remaining growers have reportedly been pushed up into inaccessible mountain areas. (SkyNews, Sept. 16)
Authorities are now going after the urban distribution network. Police on Nov. 18 announced a series of busts in the capital Tirana as part of Operation Cifliku—named for the supposed crime family of that name. Four members of the Cifliku family were arrested, and 80 kilograms of hashish confiscated, along with small quantities of heroin and cocaine. (OCCRP, AP, Nov. 18) The hashish was likely imported rather than produced domestically, but there have also been big busts of local product since the "marijuana-free" declaration. Late October saw a metric ton of herbaceous cannabis seized at the port of Durres. The shipment was discovered in a truck that was said to be bound for Italy. The driver was arrested. (ANSA, Oct. 26).
Cross-post to High Times