What does the arrest of a member of Self-Determination for drug smuggling say about Kurti's Government and Kosovo

Besnik Mujeci i Kurti
Source: Gazeta Express

The main drug smuggling routes to Europe go through Kosovo and Albania, with well-developed schemes that, as shown by the recent arrest of the councilor of Self-Determination Besnik Mujeci in Tirana, have penetrated deeply into the political structures in Pristina as well, Kosovo Online interlocutors point out. They add that the quantity of 11,300 ecstasy tablets found in Mujeci’s possession is practically "small change", and that tons of drugs and weapons and people are smuggled through the "porous" crossings between Kosovo and Albania.

The arrest of Mujeci, whom Albania refused to extradite to Kosovo, and the judicial authorities there decided to detain him for an "indefinite period", seriously shook the political scene in Pristina, where accusations against the Self-Determination Movement and its leader Albin Kurti have been coming for days. Photos of Kosovo's Prime Minister and Minister of Police Xhelal Svecla with the arrested Mujeci appeared on social networks.

Thus, the head of the parliamentary group of the Democratic Party of Kosovo, Abelard Tahiri, assessed that "the drug trade, in which the people from Kurti's Government are involved, is another episode of the corrupt and smuggling mentality of the Kosovo Government, and said that the Self-Determination Movement had turned into a criminal organization of global proportions that operated outside of Kosovo as well." 

He was joined by Zafir Berisha, a member of the Social Democratic Initiative, who called Self-Determination a criminal organization and demanded that the party be banned.

The former Director of the Kosovo Intelligence Agency (AKI), Burim Ramadani, went a step further and suggested that all decision-makers and leaders in Kosovo be tested for narcotics, indicating that "the test results could be surprising."

For security expert Darko Obradovic, the arrest of the Self-determination councilor for drug trafficking exposes Kurti's populism and now, he emphasizes, it can be seen that his party is a "deeply criminalized extremist organization, which hides behind the alleged fight for the rule of law, and at the same time constitutes a chain of drug smugglers".

"Now it should be clear to everyone that Kurti is not a peacemaker, a man who advocates for the implementation of the law but rather acts as a protector of the drug cartel. When even Ramush Haradinaj calls on the Prime Minister of Kosovo to tell the prosecution everything he knows, it is more than clear that Kurti only took over certain criminal activities of which he is a participant or protector. This is the last alarm for the international community to realize that not only that Kurti is not a political partner, but cannot be a suitable and serious interlocutor at any address," Obradovic says.

He indicates that the so-called Afghan route goes through Albania and Kosovo.

"Heroin is mainly smuggled through that chain, from Iran, via Syria and Turkey. In that 'Albanian line', the Syrian authorities, who have their own laboratories, are largely involved. So that route represents one of the main lifelines. However, the Albanian mafia is getting more involved in the cocaine business, using northern ports, mostly in Sweden, for its dealings with Colombian cartels. But what is certain and what the European police know is that the Afghan route without the Albanian mafia does not exist, and the “porous” border between Kosovo and Albania makes it easier for clans from Kosovo itself," he points out.

And security expert Dzevad Galijasevic tells Kosovo Online that there is no control at the crossings between Kosovo and Albania and that they are completely "permeable". He points out that the seizure of 11,300 ecstasy tablets that were found in Mujeci's possession is insignificant, bearing in mind that all drug smuggling routes go through Albania and Kosovo and that probably hundreds of tons of narcotics pass through them.

"The borders between Kosovo and Albania practically do not exist, because there is no border protection and control at all. It is no wonder that a member of Self-Determination was arrested in Albania and not at the border. This shows that both Kosovo and Albania have silently erased border control and are moving on to the integration of that space as a unique one. Well, Self-Determination even outlined that in its political program. Self-Determination Movement is a terrorist structure and this arrest is just another argument in favor of that. They are spreading fear and doing everything to expel the Serbs from Kosovo with constant pressure. That project is also financed by crime," Galijasevic says.

He claims that the Albanian and especially Kosovo economy is largely based on organized crime, that is, drugs, weapons, and people smuggling.

"Kosovo is the dark hole of Europe, there is no relevant legal, political, and security system that would work there. By attempting to secede from Serbia, Kosovo collapsed every political and legal system in that territory and reduced the economy exclusively to organized crime. People leave from there to foreign battlefields, people are trafficked there... All relevant reports on the movement and routes of drug trafficking - all lead to Europe exclusively through Albania and Kosovo. There, two criminal areas have integrated, and two criminal structures are trying to create one legal and political order. But in that, they are in conflict. So, narcotics also come here from Iran, Colombia, Bolivia, and Peru, and certainly, different clans exist in these two areas, that is, in each of them. The arrest of a member of Self-Determination is, among other things, a clan struggle within the framework of drug cartels that are a part of the political system of both Kosovo and Albania," Galijasevic says.