39 Arrests in Crackdown on Albanian Crime Rings Facilitating Illegal Immigration

TIRANA, Albania (AP) — Albania police have arrested 39 people in a crackdown on crime rings illegally sending about 1,000 Albanians to Britain, the United States and Canada.

Police chief Ardi Veliu said Saturday that, after months of an international investigation, authorities have identified seven criminal structures in ten countries in Europe and overseas that helped Albanians emigrate illegally by “falsifying travel and identity documents of European Union countries.”

Each had paid from $9,750 to $30,000 for the forgeries.

In addition to those arrested, 12 people are still at large, including two Bulgarians. Police have also confiscated computers, cellphones, vehicles, cash, different documents and weapons in the case.

Fighting organized crime and illegal trafficking remain key challenges for Albania, a NATO member since 2009 which is hoping to launch EU membership negotiations this year.

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