Police detain 233 people for alleged drug dealing at schools in Albania

TIRANA, Albania (AP) — Police in Albania reported the detention of 233 people Thursday as part of a nationwide operation to to stop drug dealing at schools.

Interior Minister Taulant Balla said some 3,000 officers took part in the crackdown aimed at some 23 criminal groups that allegedly distribute drugs like cannabis, cocaine, heroin and ecstasy in school and university surroundings.

“Albanian parents and families today are evaluating state police and also expect systematic work against criminals of any kind,” Balla said.

Albania, which has an Adriatic Sea coastline and land borders with Greece, Kosovo, Montenegro and North Macedonia, long has had a reputation as a main European drug trafficking route. For a long time, it also was regarded as a center of marijuana production.

After coming to power in 2013, the left-wing Socialist Party government of Prime Minister Edi Rama set destroying cannabis plants as a goal. Over the next two years it destroyed millions of cannabis plants with an estimated market value of 7 billion euros ($8.5 billion), more than two-thirds of the country’s annual gross domestic product at the time.

State Police Director Muhamet Rrumbullaku said Thursday that that some 1,500 people have been accused of drug trafficking so far this year and hundreds of thousands of cannabis plants were seized.