US Justice Department Busts Ethnic Albanian Drug Syndicate

Posted July 13th, 2011 at 6:25 pm (UTC-5)
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The U.S. Justice Department says it has “effectively ended” the operations of a drug gang responsible for trafficking massive quantities of marijuana, cocaine and other drugs.

An indictment unsealed in federal court in New York City Wednesday charges 37 alleged members and associates of an international syndicate.

U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch said the syndicate, led by ethnic Albanians, had “spread its tentacles across continents” for 10 years. She said the gang earned “enormous profits” by sending what she called “ruinous product” around the world.

The Justice Department says its investigation revealed tens of thousands of kilograms of marijuana being smuggled in tractor trailers from Canada and Mexico, and stored in warehouses throughout the New York City area. In addition, justice officials say the syndicate this week was negotiating to obtain hundreds of kilograms of cocaine, which it allegedly planned to smuggle from South America through the U.S. to Canada and Europe. They said the syndicate also trafficked “large quantities” of prescription pills, and “substantial quantities” of MDMA .

Several defendants also are accused of being involved in kidnappings and attempted murders.

The Justice Department accuses the syndicate of using a money laundering organization to hide, in one year, at least $15 million in drug profits.

Most of the defendants were arrested Wednesday, although several were taken into custody earlier for previously charged crimes. The U.S. also asked for the extradition of an alleged ringleader, who it says is detained in Albania.