After record-breaking cocaine seizures in Britain, former police chief Tony Saggers describes how Albanian criminals have gained a foothold in Britain’s booming drug trade.
Albanian organised crime gangs (OCG) are now dominating the UK’s cocaine supply networks, with small boat arrivals contributing to the gangs’ growing networks, a former police chief has said.
Tony Saggers, who headed up the National Crime Agency’s (NCA) Drugs Threat and Intelligence department, said Albanian gangsters have been able to gain considerable control in Britain’s booming drugs trade by slashing their own wholesale profits to undercut rivals.
Their “non-greed” approach—which differs greatly from British OCGs—has led to the foreign gangsters becoming the “preferred supplier” in the UK, Mr. Saggers told The Epoch Times.
The insight into the gangs’ growing influence comes just days after the government revealed authorities had seized record hauls of the Class A drug last year.
The Harm to Hope report—part of the UK’s new ten-year drug strategy—said 19 tonnes of cocaine had been seized by authorities in 2022—the highest number for a single year on record.
The figures come just months after the United Nations (UN) warned Albanian criminals are exerting “excessive” control of the UK’s drug trade—with the ability to ship in huge illicit consignments of cocaine via southeast England seaports.
The UN’s Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) said in its 2023 report (pdf) that migration from Albania has allowed gangs to set up in key cities across Europe and take over trafficking networks.
“They rely on a vast network of associates among the Albanian diaspora abroad and often work in conjunction with Italian criminal groups,’ it said.
The UNODC added, “The important destination of the United Kingdom, where Albanian-speaking groups have also been assessed to exert considerable control across the drug market, is also supplied to a large extent via ‘roll-on, roll-off’ freight reaching ports in the south-east of the United Kingdom from nearby European ports.”
“Albanian organised crime adopts a different approach to controlling drug markets, than I have generally experienced from their British counterparts,” Mr Saggers told The Epoch Times.
“In the early days of growing cocaine trafficking dominance, they were highly competitive, driving wholesale prices down and prioritising unadulterated quality, value for money and reliable delivery.
“They systematically reduced wholesale prices in the wider market by settling for lesser profit margins per kilogram.”