Albanian Mafia

Albanian Mafia

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The Albanian Mafia or Albanian organized crime (Albanian: Mafia Shqiptare) are the general terms used for criminal organizations based in Albania or composed of ethnic Albanians. Albanian organized crime is active in Albania, the United States, and the European Union (EU) countries, participating in a diverse range of criminal enterprises including drug and arms trafficking. In Albania alone there are over 15 mafia families or clans that control organized crime.

StructureThe typical structure of the Albanian Mafia is hierarchical. Deeply reliant on “loyalty”, “honor” and family (blood relations and marriage being very important) most of the Albanian networks seem to be “old-fashioned”. Albanian Mafia families or clans are usually made up of groups of fewer than 500 members, constituting an extended family residing all along the Balkan route from eastern Turkey, to Western Europe, and North America. The Northern Albanian Mafia which runs the drug wholesale business is also known by the name of “The Fifteen Families.”

According to Ioannis Michaletos, the family structure is characterized by a strong inner discipline, which is achieved by means of punitive action for every deviation from internal rules. Punishment ensures fear and fear guarantees unconditional loyalty to the family. Provisions within the family structure allow official laws to be considered secondary, unimportant and non-binding. Since Mafia families are based on blood relations, the number of clan members are limited and bonds between them tend to be very strong. As a result, infiltrating into the mafia is almost impossible. Members of other ethnic groups can be accepted only to execute one time or secondary jobs. The Albanian mafia families are organized in 4-6 or more levels, which enable them to preserve the organizational action capability even in case some of its members or groups are captured

[edit] Rudaj OrganizationMain article: Rudaj Organization
One of the most famous Albanian criminal organization was the Rudaj Organization. In October 2004, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) arrested 22 men who worked for it. Among them was Alex Rudaj,the leader of the organization, whose arrest effectively ended the workings of the Rudaj. The arrests were made shortly after the men entered the territory of the Lucchese crime family in Astoria, Queens, New York, and supposedly beat up two members of the Lucchese family.

The name Rudaj comes from the head of the organization. According to The New York Times published on January 2006, “Beginning in the 1990s, the Corporation, led by a man named Alex Rudaj, established ties with established organized crime figures including members of the Gambino crime family, the authorities say. Then, through negotiations or in armed showdowns, the Albanians struck out on their own, daring to battle the Lucchese and Gambino families for territory in Queens, the Bronx and Westchester County, prosecutors say.”.

In 2001, Albanian mobsters stormed a Gambino hangout in Astoria, Queens, sending a brazen message to the Mafia.The club, called Soccer Fever, was now theirs. The seven men who invaded the dimly lit basement club tore the joint apart, shot off handguns and beat the club manager bloody, prosecutors say. It was a bold move – and, prior to August 2001 unthinkable.

Gambino leader Arnold Squitieri had had enough and wanted a talk with these rogue mobsters. The “sit down” took place at a gas station in a rest area near the New Jersey turnpike. Squitieri did not come alone, twenty armed Gambino mobsters accompanied their boss. Alex Rudaj on the other hand had only managed to bring six members of his crew. According to undercover FBI agent Joaquin Garcia, who infiltrated the Gambino crime family during this period, Squitieri told Rudaj that the fun was over and that they should stop expanding their operations. The Albanians and Gambinos then pulled out their weapons. Knowing they were outnumbered the Albanians threatened to blow up the gas station with all of them in it. This ended the discussion, and both groups pulled back.

By 2006 all the main players involved in this “sit down” were in prison. Rudaj and his Sixth Family had been picked off the street in October 2004 and charged with a variety of racketeering and gambling charges. After a trial Rudaj and his main lieutenants were all found guilty. In 2006 Rudaj, at that time 38 years old, was sentenced to 27 years in prison. His rival Arnold Squitieri was convicted in an unrelated racketeering case and was sent to prison for seven years.

“What we have here might be considered a sixth crime family,” after the five Mafia organizations — Bonanno, Colombo, Gambino, Genovese and Lucchese — said Fred Snelling, head of the FBI’s criminal division in New York.

[edit] International activity[edit] IsraelThe Israeli government has confirmed its concern that the Albanian mafia has spread its tentacles in the country’s banking system. The Israeli intelligence agency has called for a close cooperation between Israel and Albania to combat money laundering. Justice Minister, Dr. Rotkopf Guy noted; “this is an important step in international cooperation between our countries to combat money laundering with the force of law and to deepen relations between Israel and other countries.”.

[edit] Scandinavia”The ethnic Albanian mafia is very powerful and extremely violent,” said Kim Kliver, chief investigator for organized crime with the Danish National Police. Law enforcement authorities estimate that different Albanian mafia families may smuggle as much as 440 pounds of heroin a year into Scandinavia at any given time.[10]

[edit] SwitzerlandGeneva Deputy Public Prosecutors state that the Albanian mafia is one of the most powerful ones among 8 identified mafias in the world.[11] The other Mafia organizations around the world are the Russian Mafia, Chinese (Triad), Japanese (Yakuza), Italian Mafia, Colombian (drug cartels) organizations, and Mexican (drug cartels) organizations. The Albanian mafia controls the entire network of heroin trafficking in Geneva Switzerland.[12] The Geneva deputy public prosecutors also added that the Albanian Mafia “is laundering a part of income in Geneva economy, restaurants, bars, real estate and cabarets”.[11]

[edit] SpainAccording to Spanish Authorities, the Albanian Mafia is composed of powerful organized factions. In a report by Spanish Authorities, the factions have infiltrated banks and industrial estates. They are very active in Madrid and Costa Del Sol.[13]

[edit] United StatesThe Albanian Mafia in the United States has been thought to greatly increase their dominant power and is one of the most violent criminal organizations in operation — particularly with their strong connections in the European Union.[14]

In the United States, Albanian gangs started to be active in the mid-80s, mostly participating in low-level crimes such as burglaries and robberies. Later, they would become affiliated with Cosa Nostra crime families before eventually growing strong enough to operate their own organizations under the Iliazi family name.[15]

During investigations conducted by FBI experts in the city of ??New York and surrounding areas against the Albanian mafia, it was noted that the Albanian Mafia was too widespead and too secretive to penetrate. Furthermore, although there have been a number of operations performed by the FBI to destroy organized crime such as Italian and Russian factions, the Albanian mafia continues to be widespread in New-York in a relatively high number.[16]

Speaking anonymously for Philadelphia’s City Paper a member of the “Kielbasa Posse”, an ethnic Polish mob group, declared in 2002 that Poles are willing to do business with “just about anybody. Dominicans. Blacks. Italians. Asian street gangs. Russians. But they won’t go near the Albanian mob. The Albanians are too violent and too unpredictable.”[17] The Polish mob has told its associates that the Albanians are like the early Sicilian Mafia — clannish, secretive, hypersensitive to any kind of insult, and too quick to use violence for the sake of vengeance.[17]

In 2011, a New York-based Albanian-American Mob was successfully convicted by the New York US attorney’s office. It was coordinated by the International Narcotics Strike Force (made up of the D.E.A., N.Y.P.D., I.C.E./H.S.I., New York State Police, I.R.S. and U.S. Marshals. The American-Albanian Mob was described as having “hundreds of associated members, workers and customers spanning three continents” and with trafficking drugs from Canada, Mexico, the Netherlands, Colombia, Peru and Venezuela. They were also in close cooperation with other Mafia Families based in the European Union.[18]

According to F.B.I site; “they do not yet demonstrate the established criminal sophistication of La Cosa Nostra.” [19]

According to Jerry Capeci, the national foremost expert on the American Mafia, and the webmaster of the site GangLand; “Albanian gangsters are the latest ethnic criminals to be presented by authorities as competition for the old and dying Mafiosi. Like Irish, Cuban, Russian, Chinese and Greek hoodlums before them, the Albanians are not serious competition for what the F.B.I. calls traditional organized crime, the Italian mob. There are nowhere near enough of them.” [20]

[edit] CanadaThe Albanian Mafia is firmly established in eastern Canadian cities such as Toronto and Montreal. They are involved in various white collar activities such as real estate and health care fraud. Furthermore, they are engaged in cross-border activity between the United States and Canada which include drug smuggling and money laundering.[21]

A Canadian Security Intelligence Service report noted that although organized crime in Canada has shifted to more multi-ethnic and loosely based structures, the term “Mafia” is used only to identify the “big three,” which have hierarchical structures that are ethnically, racially, and culturally homogeneous: the ‘Italian’, ‘Albanian’, and ‘Russian’ Mafias.[22]

[edit] ItalyThe special relationship, cooperation and understanding between Albanian and Italian Mafia groups is based on old traditions, which both parties share. Notions such as vengeance, honour, and respect are traditionally embedded in Italian and Albanian Mafia groups that span over hundreds of years.[23]

Since the beginning of the 1990s Italy has been clamping down hard on the Sicilian Mafia. According to the deputy director of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), at the end of the 1990s the Mafia sought to survive this crackdown by forming a “symbiotic” relationship with the Albanian crime families known as fares, who provided the struggling Sicilians a hand in a number of services in their operations across Italy. Today, both Sicilian Mafia groups and the ‘Ndrangheta are believed to have franchised out prostitution, gambling and drug dealing in territories along the Adriatic coast to the Albanians. One CSIS report even claimed that this partnership had proved so successful that the Sicilian mafia established a ‘headquarters’ in Vlorë, a coastal town in southern Albania at the close of the 1990s.[24]

Albanian emigrants started arriving at Italian ports in 1991. By 1997 the immigration had come under the control of the Albanian and Italian criminal groups, tightening relationships between them[25]

“The Albanian Mafia seems to have established good working relationships with the Italian Mafia”.[26] “On the 27th of July 1999 police in Durres (Albania), with Italian assistance arrested one of the godfathers of the “Sacra Corona Unita”, Puglia’s Italian Mafia. This Albanian link seems to confirm that the Sacra Corona Unita and the Albanian Mafia are “partners” in Puglia/Italy and delegate several criminal activities”.[26] Thus, in many areas of Italy, the market for cannabis, prostitution, and smuggling is run mainly by Albanians. Links to Calabria’s Mafia, the “Ndrangheta”, exist in Northern Italy. Several key figures of the Albanian Mafia seem to reside frequently in the Calabrian towns of Perugia, Africo, Plati, and Bovalino (Italy), fiefs of the Ndrangheta. Southern Albanian groups also have good relationships with Sicily’s Cosa Nostra.[26]

Roberto Saviano, the Italian writer, an expert on the Neapolitan Camorra in particular and the Italian mafia in general, spoke of the Albanian mafia as a “no longer foreign mafia” to Italy and stressed that the Albanians and Italians have a “brotherly” relationship between each other. Saviano notes that the Camorra from Naples can’t understand the Russian clans, which aren’t based on family ties, and feels greater affinity with the Albanian crime families.[27]

In an Albanian television station Top Channel Tv, Saviano went on to say that the Albanian and Italian factions are “one of the same”, and that they don’t consider each other as foreigners.[3]

According to the German Federal Intelligence Service, the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), in a leaked report to a Berlin newspaper; states that the ‘Ndrangheta (one of the most notorious criminal organizations in Italy) “act in close co-operation with Albanian mafia families in moving weapons and narcotics across Europe’s porous borders”.[28]

[edit] United KingdomAlbanian mafia gangs are believed to be largely behind sex trafficking, immigrants smuggling, as well as working with Turkish gangs in Southend-On-Sea, who control the heroin trade in the United Kingdom.[29][30]

Vice squad officers estimate that “Albanians now control more than 75 per cent of the country’s brothels and their operations in London’s Soho alone are worth more than £15 million a year.” They are said to be present in every big city in Britain as well as many smaller ones including Telford and Lancaster, after having fought off rival criminals in turf wars. Associate groups within the organizations will also hide their criminal activities within restaurants, bars and clubs in an attempt to remain undercover.[31]

Albanian gangsters were also involved in the largest cash robbery in British crime history, the £53 million (about US$92.5 million at the time of the robbery) Securitas heist in 2006.[32]

According to the Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency (SCDEA), Albanian Mafia groups have muscled in on the drug and vice trades within the Scottish underworld. The (SCDEA) notes that Albanian Mafia groups have established a foothold in arms and drugs trafficking in Scotland.

[edit] FranceThe Albanian Mafia in France is described as having a monopoly over many criminal transactions including arms and drug trafficking. The Albanian Mafia has a strong foothold in France which is a key strategy as other primary transactions are overseen in neighbouring countries by different mafia families and clans.[33]

[edit] GermanyAlbanian Mafia families are one of the major criminal organizations in Germany. In particular, they play a crucial role in the drug trade and the red light districts of the country. Although this is well known to German security authorities such as the (Bundesnachrichtendienst) , they are unwilling to undertake an investigation against the Albanian criminal structures in Germany.[34]

“Ethnic Albanians” (as the German police officially calls them), who come in to Germany typically from Albania or the Republic of Macedonia or Kosovo, created for a very short time in the last decade of the century, a very powerful criminal network, says Manfred Quedzuweit, director of the Police Department for Fighting the Organized Crime in Hamburg. “Here, it could be heard that they are even more dangerous than Cosa Nostra.[35] Albanian “banks” in Germany are a special story. They are used for the transfer of money from Germany which amounts to a billion of D-marks a year. One of these banks was discovered by accident by the Düsseldorf police while checking a travel agency “Eulinda” owned by the Albanians. “We haven’t found a single travel related catalogue or brochure at the agency. The computers were nonfunctional, the printer had never been used. We found that “Eulinda” was a coverup for some other business”, said high criminal counselor from Düsseldorf Rainer Bruckert. “Eventually we found out that “Eulinda” had already transferred 150 million dollars to Kosovo — for ‘humanitarian purposes’”, says Bruckert. “Money was being transferred by the couriers in special waist belts with multiple pockets. So, in a single one-way trip, it was possible to carry up to six million D-marks.”[35]

[edit] BelgiumThe Albanian mafia has deep roots in Belgium, which was recently a topic of a special programme on Belgian RTBF Channel One. Reporters tried to investigate the roots of Albanian organized crime but have complained that it is too hard to penetrate the structure and organization of the Albanian mafia, but agreed that the Albanian mafia acts on the model of the Italian one, whose crime is part of the “activities of entire families” and which has a clearly defined hierarchy. The Albanian mafia in Brussels has monopoly over activities such as “narcotics and arms deals” according to Belgian sources.[36]

[edit] AustraliaGodfather of an Albanian Mafia family ‘Daut Kadriovski’ gained the attention of the Australian Authorities after creating a drug pipeline through Albanian and Croatian communities in Sydney and Brisbane.[37] The mafia has been known to integrate into Australian society through the use of teenage members, who come into the country in the guise of university students.

[edit] HondurasReliable information from Honduras indicate formidable Albanian mafia activity. According to WikiLeaks reports, Albanian mafia groups are affiliated with various South American politicians, and have set in motion to move their hidden assets in various banks. The Wikileaks report goes on to state that Albanian Mafia groups are preying heavily in Central America, where all roads lead to Colombian Cocaine. Albanian mafia groups are laundering money through banks in Honduras and investing a large amount in construction projects to further gain influence in South America.[38]

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