Extraordinary investigation into a Franco-Albanian mafia network selling cocaine and heroin in Lyon

Extraordinary investigation into a Franco-Albanian mafia network selling cocaine and heroin in Lyon
Extraordinary investigation into a Franco-Albanian mafia network selling cocaine and heroin in Lyon

The police in the Lyon region have arrested the heads of a major hard drug trafficking ring in recent days, the end of a two-year investigation that has dismantled around ten drug dealing locations.

The Figaro Lyon

European trafficking requires international cooperation. The Lyon gendarmes have brought down a vast drug trafficking network orchestrated from Albania and operating for several years throughout the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region, the military announced in a press release. The culmination of months of investigation with the help of Albanian and Belgian magistrates, the narcotics transiting from the Netherlands.

Ten drug dealing points were dismantled in the Rhône, Loire, Ain, Savoie and Haute-Savoie. Their supply was managed from Villeurbanne, in the suburbs of Lyon. With “almost daily deliveries” narcotics to local drug trafficking groups, the police said. The criminal organization’s principal was identified in Albania, where the money from the trafficking was transferred by road.

In total, 16 individuals were arrested in France and four leaders in Albania. More than 10 kilos of cocaine and heroin were seized as well as 82 kilos of cutting products. Enough to allow “the production of more than 400 kg of products for sale, for a market value of almost 800,000 euros”Some 18 vehicles and 100,000 euros of criminal assets were recovered by the courts in both countries.

Albanian Mafiosi

To understand the scale of this extraordinary investigation, we have to go back two years. The organization was identified at the end of summer 2022, in Savoie, where the Albertville Research Brigade opened an investigation into the actions of an organized criminal group. A structure whose investigators quickly saw significant ramifications and its roots in the Lyon region. Its members supplied drug resale points in Savoie and Haute-Savoie.

The case is transferred to the magistrates of the specialized interregional jurisdiction of Lyon and entrusted to the Research Section of the Lyon gendarmerie, with the support of the SR of that of Chambéry and the Gendarmerie Group of Savoie. Finally, a national investigation unit is created in January 2023. “In this context, police and judicial cooperation mechanisms are being initiated with several European countries: Belgium and Italy”specifies the regional management of the gendarmerie.

A special Lyon-Tirana channel

It allows us to follow one of the leaders of the network who is then released from prison after serving a sentence for drug trafficking. The man quickly returns to service by becoming the intermediary between the client in Albania and the Villeurbanne delivery men. At the same time, he manages a second heroin and cocaine import network. Sentenced to 16 years for “human trafficking” and “pimping minors”, he becomes a priority target and is quickly arrested last winter and then deported to Albania.

It was finally six months later that the police would deal the final blow to the network. In two stages. First in mid-June by arresting the two successive leaders of the network on French territory, in Villeurbanne and Deville-lès-Rouen, in Seine-Maritime. Indicted, they were placed in provisional detention and put in isolation. Then, at the beginning of July, by leading the arrest of the leader of this network and his accomplices from Lyon. Investigators from Lyon travelled around the country for the occasion as part of the joint investigation team (ECE). “The commitment of 150 Albanian police officers under the direction of SPAK allows the arrest of the four leaders including the head of the network, three of whom are the subject of requests for imprisonment”the police said.

This France-Albania ECE, to combat drug trafficking organized in France by Albanian nationals from their country of origin, was set up in 2023 in view of the scale of the trafficking. A delegation of Albanian and Belgian magistrates and police officers also went to Lyon at the end of May. “for work exchanges and operational cooperation”. “It is not the only community concerned but there is a recurring problem with Albanian traffickers, whose network leaders remain in the country,” precise to Figaro a senior officer of the gendarmerie.

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