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Albanian gang war to control drugs market that’s spilling onto UK’s streets with killings & 50kg of stolen cocaine

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WITH two bodyguards on patrol permanently outside his office, chief prosecutor Kreshnik Ajazi sums up why the Albanian drug gangs he targets are so ruthless.

“In Albania, we have a tradition — revenge.”

In 2018, a shipment of 50 kilos of cocaine went missing in England

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In 2018, a shipment of 50 kilos of cocaine went missing in EnglandCredit: Alamy
The theft triggered a string of revenge attacks back in Albania, including three men being gunned down in their Range Rover with AK-47s

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The theft triggered a string of revenge attacks back in Albania, including three men being gunned down in their Range Rover with AK-47sCredit: Chris Eades
This month, Bajram Luli, 27, was stabbed to death in Greenford, West London, after having just moved to the UK

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This month, Bajram Luli, 27, was stabbed to death in Greenford, West London, after having just moved to the UKCredit: LNP

A trail of tit-for-tat killings between warring gangs battling to control the UK drugs market shows he knows what he is talking about.

The theft of 50 kilos of cocaine in England triggered a string of revenge attacks back in Albania, including three men being gunned down in their Range Rover with AK-47s.

And a dealer convicted of murdering a rival in Southampton has been shot dead inside an Albanian top-security prison in a sophisticated revenge hit that cost a million euros to arrange.

As the Met probes yet another killing of an Albanian man in London, The Sun travelled to the former Communist country to investigate the criminal gangs that have such a foothold in the UK.

Mr Ajazi, a stylish 40-year-old who wears shirts monogrammed with his initials on the cuffs, has devoted his life to dismantling these gangs — but it comes with a heavy price.

Hitting where it hurts

Threats to his life mean the armed guards never leave his side, 28 security cameras are trained on the outside of his office building in the city of Elbasan, and his wife wonders when he will take a job prosecuting “normal criminals”.

But he is too busy to worry, with many of the attacks he deals with stemming from bloody fall-outs that begin in Britain.

The lawyer said: “These disputes between gangs are created in England but the revenge takes place in our city. When I became the chief prosecutor, my aim was to challenge those gangs, which we have done.

“That means I am now escorted every single minute of my life by a special escort from the state police, which tells you what sort of danger I am in.

“But it has been worth it.”

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Thanks to his and the state police’s work, the local gang-related murder rate has dropped from 15 a year to zero.

The UK government is just as determined to take on the Albanian organised crime gangs.

The National Crime Agency last month signed an agreement with Albanian police to challenge criminals who control the UK cannabis market as well as enjoying a healthy slice of the £4billion cocaine trade.

Around 1,700 gang members are thought to be at large in the UK and there are more Albanians in our jails than any other foreign nationality, even though Albania has a population of just 2.8million.

As well as trying to lock up gang leaders, the police are hitting them where it hurts — in their pockets.

A British-registered £200,000 Lamborghini — with a number plate that partly reads 14MBO (Lambo) — was recently seized from a ­suspected criminal, along with a hotel he owned. And the cops now plan to use it as a patrol car.

A spokesman for Albania’s Agency Of Seized And Confiscated Assets said: “We will send a message that what has been earned from criminal activities in the UK and Europe will be confiscated.”

The problem is that in Albania revenge is a tradition so we cannot predict what is going to happen

Mr Ajazi

When the police Lamborghini rolls past, it will raise a smile from law-abiding Albanian migrants. But other cases the police have to deal with are no laughing matter.

Organised crime gangs are similar to the Mafia in that they are structured around families. That means they take disputes personally.

In 2013, drug dealer Arben Lleshi, 27, who killed a rival in Southampton was extradited to Peqin Prison in Albania and in 2023 his victim's gang spent a million euros organising a hit to kill him in jail

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In 2013, drug dealer Arben Lleshi, 27, who killed a rival in Southampton was extradited to Peqin Prison in Albania and in 2023 his victim’s gang spent a million euros organising a hit to kill him in jailCredit: Handout
Endrit Alibej, 34, was also killed

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Endrit Alibej, 34, was also killedCredit: YouTube
Alibej’s family wasted no time in taking revenge and the killings continued for two years, claiming a total of eight lives

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Alibej’s family wasted no time in taking revenge and the killings continued for two years, claiming a total of eight livesCredit: Chris Eades

In 2018, a shipment of 50 kilos of cocaine — with a potential market value of tens of millions of pounds — went missing in England.

The gang waiting for its delivery suspected the courier so they beat him up and dumped him in a remote location, reckoning that whoever he had tipped off to steal the drugs would come to his aid.

They kept watch to see who would collect him — and once they knew which family was behind the theft, the killings began.

Soon after, Endrit Alibej, 34, was driving away from a family dinner in Elbasan with his uncle Arben Dylgjeri, 56, and a Turkish associate.

As they slowed to negotiate a roundabout, a gunman armed with an AK-47 struck, spraying the vehicle and killing all three men.

Setting body on fire

Alibej’s family wasted no time in taking revenge and the killings continued for two years, eventually claiming a total of eight lives.

Mr Ajazi said the to-and-fro attacks related to that particular dispute have ended — for now.

He added: “Let’s say they are currently on standby.

“The problem is that in Albania revenge is a tradition so we cannot predict what is going to happen.”       

Another case Mr Ajazi is involved in shocked the Albanian justice system because it exposed the full extent of corruption in prisons.

In 2013, Albanian drug dealer Arben Lleshi, 27, was jailed for life at Winchester Crown Court for killing a rival in Southampton and setting his body on fire.

He was extradited to serve his sentence in the top-security Peqin Prison, 40 miles south of capital Tirana.

Late last year, his victim’s gang began plotting their revenge.

They spent an estimated one million euros bribing prison officials to smuggle a 9mm Smith and Wesson into the jail and to pay a hitman.

The gun was passed to the killer in the middle of November and he kept it concealed for three weeks before going to Lleshi’s cell ten days before Christmas.

Mr Ajazi said: “He invited that man to talk. He said, ‘Can we have a conversation?’

“And at this moment, he took out the gun and shot and killed him.”

The jail’s entire command structure has been arrested — 12 officers in total — on suspicion of taking bribes and turning a blind eye.

Back in Britain, an Albanian man was stabbed to death in North London last month, with one of his countrymen being charged with the murder.

And the Met are now investigating yet another killing of an Albanian.

These disputes between gangs are created in England but the revenge takes place in our city

Lawyer

At around 5.30pm on Monday, March 11, a white Kia car was seen reversing down a road in Greenford, West London, before one of the occupants leapt out and fled.

Moments later Bajram Luli, 27, staggered out of the car with a serious stab wound to his stomach.

Cops and paramedics were called but they could not save him.

A man has now been charged in connection with the alleged murder and will stand trial later.

Bajram had only just moved to the UK from Albania. The motive for his killing has not been revealed and there is no suggestion he was involved in any criminality.

But the police back in Albania — and chief prosecutor Mr Ajazi — will be hoping these two recent cases are not the start of yet more blood feuds.

  • Pictures from Chris Eades, in Albania
This British-registered £200,000 Lamborghini was seized in Albania by police... who aim to use it as a patrol car

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This British-registered £200,000 Lamborghini was seized in Albania by police… who aim to use it as a patrol carCredit: Chris Eades
Arben Dylgjeri, 56, also died

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Arben Dylgjeri, 56, also diedCredit: YouTube

BRITISH POLICE LINK-UP

A BRITISH bobby’s helmet takes pride of place on a shelf in the grand governmental office of Albania’s Interior Minister, Taulant Balla.

The gift from a visiting UK police delegation shows the commitment of both countries to forging closer links to fight organised crime.

A British bobby’s helmet takes pride of place on a shelf in the grand governmental office of Albania’s Interior Minister, Taulant Balla

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A British bobby’s helmet takes pride of place on a shelf in the grand governmental office of Albania’s Interior Minister, Taulant BallaCredit: Chris Eades

Mr Balla has had a series of meetings with UK ministers to thrash out ideas on how best to stop trafficking gangs.

One success has been the 90 per cent drop in the number of Albanians crossing the Channel in small boats.

And the no-nonsense politician – popular in Albania for an anti-drugs drive outside schools which has seen more than 800 dealers convicted – is confident of a similar result against the narco gangs.

Mr Balla said: “We have had good results in the fight against organised crime.

“We are working closely with Britain’s National Crime Agency and the Metropolitan Police, and we have some joint operations ongoing.

“I’m very happy that from the British side we are receiving a lot of expertise and are exchanging important data that is needed in bringing people to justice.

“Also, the work in seizing criminal assets is going very well.

“Houses and hotels we seize are being used for good purposes. And the Lamborghini that was seized will be used by our traffic police.

“My message to the organised crime gangs is – impunity time is finished. We are having a campaign against the fugitives.”

As he spoke, his mobile phone pinged with more good news – a message revealing the date that a wanted killer who had been on the run abroad would finally arrive home to face justice.

Albania’s fight against crime is a long, difficult one. But with the help of British police, they are finally reaping rewards.

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