|Territory||Balkans (Albania, Kosovo, Macedonia, Greece), Italy, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Serbia, Canada, United Kingdom, Germany, Switzerland, France, United States, Netherlands, Honduras, Israel, China, Sweden, Norway, Finland and other parts of Europe And also in America|
|Criminal activities||Arms trafficking, murder, extortion, fencing, robbery, human trafficking, blackmailing, loan sharking, drug trafficking, theft, money laundering, assault, pimping, and bribery|
|Allies||Sicilian Mafia, Camorra, 'Ndrangheta, Sacra Corona Unita, Turkish mafia, British Firms, YACS, Italian American mafia|
The Albanian Mafia or Albanian organized crime (Albanian: Mafia Shqiptare) are the general terms used for criminal organizations based in Albania or composed of ethnic Albanians. Albanian organized crime is highly active in Europe, North America, South America, and various other parts of the world including the Middle East and Asia. The Albanian Mafia participates in a diverse range of criminal enterprises including trafficking in drugs, arms, humans, and human organs, the Albanian criminal scenario is characterized by diversified criminal plans which, in their complexity, show one of the highest criminal capacities in the world. In Albania alone, there are over 15 mafia families that control organized crime. According to Wikileaks reports, the Albanian mafia has monopolized various international affiliations from as far east as Israel, to as far west as South America. These reports primarily indicate a strong connection between politicians and various Albanian mafia families. According to the Research Institute for European and American Studies (RIEAS), Albanian mafia groups are actually hybrid organizations (various sectors of society), often involved in both criminal and political activities.
The Albanian Mafia, in its entirety, constitutes one of the highest crime generating elements in the world, combining the “traditional” characteristics – plainly manifest in the rigid internal discipline, in the clan structure, in the “endogamic closure” which increases the impermeability, the reliability and the endogenous solidity – with modern and innovative elements, such as trans-nationality, commercial imprinting and the criminogenous culture of service, the massive logistics to almost anywhere and the syncretic nature of Albanian crime has facilitated its establishment outside of the mother country and its integration with the local criminality, exploiting the opportunities inherent in the entire compatriot network.
In the United States, the term "Albanian Mafia" may include or refer specifically to various Albanian-American organized crime groups, such as the Rudaj Organization, Albanian Boys, all based in New York City. Albanian-American crime groups vary in the extent of their connections to Albanian mafia groups in Albania or Europe, ranging from loosely connected or mostly independent Albanian mafias in Europe to being essentially American extensions of European Albanian mafia groups.
- 1 Structure and composition
- 2 Rituals and codes of conduct
- 3 International activity
- 3.1 China
- 3.2 Israel
- 3.3 Australia
- 3.4 Europe
- 3.5 North America
- 3.6 Latin America
- 4 Prominent Albanian mafiosi
- 5 In popular culture
- 6 See also
- 7 References
- 8 External links
Structure and composition
The typical structure of the Albanian mafia is hierarchical. A family clan is referred to as a "fis" or a "fare." Families contain an executive committee known as a "Bajrak" and select a high-ranking member for each unit. A unit is led by a "Krye" or "Boss" who selects "Kryetar" or "Underbosses" to serve under them, the Kryetar will then choose a "Mik" or "Friend" who acts as a liaison to members and is responsible for coordinating unit activities.
Deeply reliant on loyalty, honor, and family—with blood relations and marriage being very important—most of the Albanian networks appear to be "old-fashioned". Albanian mafia families or clans are usually made up of groups that have thousands members all over the world, constituting an extended family, residing all along the Balkan route from Eastern Turkey, to Western Europe, and North America.
According to Ioannis Michaletos, the family structure is characterized by a strong inner discipline, which is achieved by means of punitive action for every deviation from internal rules. Punishment ensures fear, and fear guarantees unconditional loyalty to the family. Provisions within the family structure allow official laws to be considered secondary, unimportant, and non-binding, since mafia families are based on blood relations, the number of clan members are limited, and bonds between them tend to be very strong. As a result, infiltrating into the mafia is almost impossible. Members of other ethnic groups can be accepted only to execute one time or secondary jobs, the Albanian mafia families are organized in 4–6 or more levels; such a structure enables them to preserve the organizational action capability even in case some of its members or groups are captured.
Clans by region in Albania
The Albanian mafia has clans throughout the world; in Albania, there are clans that operate in certain towns or cities. Each region is controlled by different mafia families that oversee international operations; in Shkodra, the Xhakja clan is powerful and has an extensive history of criminal family members. Other prominent Albanian mafia families operating in and around Albania include; The Bregus or "Bregu" crime family, run by Armir Bregu, who is serving time in United Kingdom, and the Osmani family, and the "Banda e Lushnjës" whose boss "Aldo Bare" has since been arrested and prosecuted. The Allushi clan is located in the area of Kurcaj, Albania.
Rituals and codes of conduct
The Albanian mafia uses a term "Besa", meaning trust, as a name for their "code of honor", during the recruitment process a member inducted into the Albanian mafia is required to take an oath. The oath is then considered sacred because it is defined as a Besë. Besa is extremely important in Albanian culture, and is considered a verbal contract of trust. Especially in North Albania, when somebody gives you his Besë, he has given you his life and is going to protect you with his life.
International agencies have coined the Albanian mafia as "A mafia more frightening than the Colombian cartels." In notes stating that in the past 5 years, 75% of the global drug market is in the hands of the Albanian mafia.
"According to the US State Department, Albania is the mainstay of organized crime worldwide and the main points of drug trafficking, weapons and immigrants in counterfeit goods. In addition, the cartels 'national' distinguished by the absence of vertical hierarchy, and controlled by family groups. Four major clans control 20 families that also govern human trafficking, prostitution, blackmail, car robberies and money laundering, "writes Sputnik.
The Turkish and Italian Mafia organizations are the main partners of the Albanian mafia in drug trafficking, the latter, according to Sputnik, maintain links with officials, police, customs, intelligence and even military in their countries.
The Albanian mafia has extended its activities to China, this after Chinese authorities have uncovered Albanian mafia activity including drug trafficking and prostitution networks. Reports state that the mafia is involved in drug transporting to various Chinese cities. Further, after smuggling the drugs, they are involved in human smuggling of Chinese nationals to Europe.
The Israeli government has confirmed its concern that the Albanian mafia has spread its tentacles in the country's banking system, the Israeli intelligence agency has called for a close cooperation between Israel and Albania to combat money laundering. Justice Ministry General Manager, Dr. Rotkopf Guy noted; "this is an important step in international cooperation between our countries to combat money laundering with the force of law and to deepen relations between Israel and other countries."
A lengthy News Corp Australia investigation has found that an Albanian Mafia group — led by some of Australia’s most wanted men — have established “entrenched infiltration” of almost every level of Australian society and according to Australian Federal Police:
- “European Organized Crime, primarily the Albanian Mafia is now one of the largest organised crime threats to Australia, so entrenched and disciplined and influential in local communities it has made this a serious challenge to crack.”
The mostly Australian run group, led by former Kings Cross identity Vaso Ulić, a Montenegrin immigrant who left Australia in 2005 never to return, was now networked to become one of the biggest transnational crime groups in the world importing six tonnes a year into Australia alone but many more to and from other destinations from South Africa to Europe, China, Nigeria and the Americas with law enforcers from notably the United Kingdom, United States and Italy involved in their pursuance.
Vaso Ulic is a 55-year-old ethnic Montenegrin who migrated to Australia in 1979 and within a few years was working as a small-time foot soldier running drugs and cash along the infamous Golden Mile of Kings Cross but who is now seen as a kingpin of an organisation so big, very few drug consignments enter Australia without his knowledge or permission.
It has been confirmed the prosecutions office in Montenegro, where Ulic is residing, has an extensive file on Ulic and other figures in the country as part of an international arrest warrant to break the cartel up.
An internal police assessment relayed to the Federal Government claims their criminality now extends worldwide with direct Australian-Albanian Organized Crime links to notorious Mexican and Colombian clans and cartels and Asian triads including the 14K group, South African crime lords and Italian and Dutch criminal groups, with predominantly Melbourne, Sydney, Queensland, South Australia & Tasmania using motorcycle gangs as part of the national distribution & enforcement network for the Albanians.
In 1989, Belgian Prime Minister Paul Vanden Boeynants was kidnapped in a plot organized by Basri Bajrami. Bajrami was acknowledged by authorities as a member of the Albanian mafia at that time, the Albanian mafia has deep roots in Belgium, which was recently a topic of a special programme on Belgian RTBF Channel One. Reporters tried to investigate the roots of Albanian organized crime but have complained that it is too hard to penetrate the structure and organization of the Albanian mafia, but they agreed that the Albanian mafia acts on the model of the Italian one, whose crime is part of the "activities of entire families" and which has a clearly defined hierarchy, the Albanian mafia in Brussels has monopoly over activities such as "narcotics and arms deals", according to Belgian sources.
The Albanian mafia in France is described as having a monopoly over many criminal transactions including arms and drug trafficking, the Albanian mafia has a strong foothold in France, which is a key strategy as other primary transactions are overseen in neighbouring countries by different mafia families and clans. French media has stated that " In many cities of France, there is a network of the Albanian mafia who are involved in narcotics trafficking and prostitution, it is a highly organized network and is very difficult to find their roots and penetrate it.
Albanian mafia families are active in some of the German urban centres, in particular Hamburg, they play an important role in the drug trade and the red light districts of the country. Although this is well-known to German security authorities, such as the (Bundesnachrichtendienst), they are unwilling to undertake an investigation against the Albanian criminal structures in Germany.
"Ethnic Albanians" (as the German police officially calls them), migrated from Albania or the Republic of Macedonia or Kosovo, due to the war in Kosovo. Despite their relatively small number, they have quickly taken over the criminal networks of heroin and prostitution faster than any other ethnic group has ever done; in 1999, there were many fake "Albanian" banks that transferred great amounts of money out of Germany in order to finance the KLA guerrilla in Kosovo. This mafia uses so much violence that the German police has problems finding any witnesses to testify against them; all potential witnesses fear for their safety and for the safety of their families.
BND reports state that Albanian Mafia activities are thoroughly spread throughout Germany. One mafia family in Hamburg, for instance, according to BND reports, has over "300 million euros in real estate portfolios". Further, the clan has considerable ties to police, judges and prosecutors in Hamburg.
According to British criminal Colin Blaney in his autobiography 'Undesirables', Albanian criminals in Germany also frequently come to blows with British criminals who operate in the nation. Albanian people traffickers have been involved in confrontations with an English organized crime group known as the Wide Awake Firm, including an incident in which a member of the English group was stabbed through the hand.
The geographic vicinity, the accessibility to the E.U. through Italy, and the ties with the Calabrian and Apulia criminality have all contributed to the expansion of the Albanian criminality on the Italian scenario. Further factors relative to the economy have rendered the Albanian criminality even more competitive; in fact, some organizations which reached Italy in the early 1990s, infiltrated the Lombardy narco-traffic network run by the ‘ndrangheta. Albanian mafia leaders have reached stable agreements with the Italian criminal organizations, also with the mafia, so have gained legitimacy in many illegal circuits, diversifying their activities to avoid reasons of conflict with similar host structures. So, Albanian drug trafficking has emerged in Apulia, Sicily, Calabria and Campania.
The Albanian mafia reportedly uses specific trading routes to transport narcotics and illegal immigrants to Italy, their southern route is via Montenegro and Albania. Access is then gained to Italy by boat.
Since the beginning of the 1990s, Italy has been clamping down hard on the Sicilian mafia. According to the deputy director of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), at the end of the 1990s the mafia sought to survive this crackdown by forming a "symbiotic" relationship with the Albanian crime families known as fares, who provided the struggling Sicilians a hand in a number of services in their operations across Italy. Today, both Sicilian mafia groups and the ‘Ndrangheta are believed to have franchised out prostitution, gambling, and drug dealing in territories along the Adriatic coast to the Albanians. One CSIS report even claimed that this partnership had proved so successful that the Sicilian mafia established a ‘headquarters’ in Vlorë, a coastal town in southern Albania at the close of the 1990s.
Albanian clandestine immigrants started arriving at Italian ports in 1991. By 1997, the immigration had come under the control of the Albanian and Italian criminal groups, tightening relationships between them.
Sacra Corona Unita
"The Albanian Mafia seems to have established good working relationships with the Italian Mafia". "On the 27th of July 1999 police in Durres (Albania), with Italian assistance arrested one of the godfathers of the "Sacra Corona Unita", Puglia’s Italian mafia. This Albanian link seems to confirm that the Sacra Corona Unita and the Albanian mafia are "partners" in Puglia/Italy and delegate several criminal activities". Thus, in many areas of Italy, the market for cannabis, prostitution, and smuggling is run mainly by Albanians. Links to Calabria’s mafia, the Ndrangheta, exist in Northern Italy. Several key figures of the Albanian mafia seem to reside frequently in the Calabrian towns of Africo, Platì, and Bovalino (Italy), fiefs of the Ndrangheta. Southern Albanian groups also have good relationships with Sicily’s Cosa Nostra.
Roberto Saviano, the Italian writer, an expert on the Napolitan Camorra in particular and the Italian mafia in general, spoke of the Albanian mafia as a "no longer foreign mafia" to Italy and stressed that the Albanians and Italians have a "brotherly" relationship between each other. Saviano notes that the Camorra from Naples cannot understand the Russian mafia clans, which aren't based on family ties, and feels greater affinity with the Albanian crime families.
In an Albanian television station Top Channel TV, Saviano went on to say that the Albanian and Italian factions are "one of the same", and that they don't consider each other as foreigners.
According to the German Federal Intelligence Service, the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), in a leaked report to a Berlin newspaper, states that the 'Ndrangheta "act in close co-operation with Albanian mafia families in moving weapons and narcotics across Europe's porous borders".
"The ethnic Albanian mafia is very powerful and extremely violent," said Kim Kliver, chief investigator for organized crime with the Danish National Police. Law enforcement authorities estimate that different Albanian mafia families may smuggle as much as 440 pounds of heroin a year into Scandinavia at any given time.
According to Spanish Authorities, the Albanian mafia is composed of powerful organized factions; in a report by Spanish Authorities, the factions have infiltrated banks and industrial estates. They are very active in Madrid and Costa Del Sol.
Geneva Deputy Public Prosecutors state that the Albanian mafia is one of the most powerful ones among eight identified mafias in the world, the other mafia organizations around the world are the Russian mafia, Chinese (Triad), Japanese (Yakuza), Italian Mafia, Colombian (drug cartels) organizations, and Mexican (drug cartels) organizations. The Albanian mafia controls the entire network of heroin trafficking in Geneva, Switzerland, the Geneva deputy public prosecutors also added that the Albanian mafia "is laundering a part of income in Geneva economy, restaurants, bars, real estate and cabarets".
Albanian mafia gangs are believed to be largely behind sex trafficking, immigrants smuggling, as well as working with Turkish gangs in Southend-on-Sea, who control the heroin trade in the United Kingdom.
Vice squad officers estimate that "Albanians now control more than 75 per cent of the country’s brothels and their operations in London’s Soho alone are worth more than £15 million a year." They are said to be present in every big city in Britain as well as in many smaller ones including Telford and Lancaster, after having fought off rival criminals in turf wars. Associate groups within the organizations will also hide their criminal activities within restaurants, bars, and clubs in an attempt to remain undercover.
Albanian gangsters were also involved in the largest cash robbery in British crime history, the £53 million (about US$92.5 million at the time of the robbery) Securitas heist in 2006.
According to the Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency (SCDEA), Albanian mafia groups have muscled in on the drug and vice trades within the Scottish underworld. The (SCDEA) notes that Albanian mafia groups have established a foothold in arms and drugs trafficking in Scotland.
Albanian mafia in UK is heavily involved in prostitution and together with Turkish mafia control more than 70% of prostitution market in London. In the last few years Albanian mafia was involved more in drug trafficking than in prostitution and they sold more than 500,000 kilos of drugs in London alone.
The Albanian mafia is firmly established in Eastern Canada cities, such as Toronto and Montreal. Albanians are involved in various white collar activities, such as real estate and health care fraud. Furthermore, they are engaged in cross-border activity between the United States and Canada, which includes drug smuggling and money laundering.
A Canadian Security Intelligence Service report noted that although organized crime in Canada has shifted to more multi-ethnic and loosely based structures, the term "mafia" is used only to identify the "big three," which have hierarchical structures that are ethnically, racially, and culturally homogeneous: the Italian, Albanian, and Russian mafias.
The Albanian mafia in the United States has been thought to greatly increase their dominant power and is one of the most violent criminal organizations in operation—particularly with their strong connections in the European Union.
In the United States, Albanian gangs started to be active in the mid-80s, mostly participating in low-level crimes, such as burglaries and robberies. Later, they would become affiliated with Cosa Nostra crime families before eventually growing strong enough to operate their own organizations under the Iliazi family name.
During investigations conducted by FBI experts in the city of New York and surrounding areas against the Albanian mafia, it was noted that the Albanian mafia was too widespread and too secretive to penetrate. Furthermore, although there have been a number of operations performed by the FBI to destroy organized crime such as Italian and Russian factions, the Albanian mafia continues to be widespread in New York in a relatively high number.
In 2011, a New York-based Albanian-American mob was successfully convicted by the New York US attorney's office, it was coordinated by the International Narcotics Strike Force (made up of the DEA, NYPD, ICE/HSI, New York State Police, IRS, and U.S. Marshals), the American-Albanian mob was described as having "hundreds of associated members, workers, and customers spanning three continents" and with trafficking drugs from Detroit, Canada, Mexico, the Netherlands, Colombia, Peru, and Venezuela. They were also in close cooperation with other mafia families based in the European Union.
According to Jerry Capeci, the national foremost expert on the American Mafia "Albanian gangsters are the latest ethnic criminals to be presented by authorities as competition for the old and dying Mafiosi. Like Irish, Cuban, Russian, Chinese and Greek hoodlums before them, the Albanians are not serious competition for what the F.B.I. calls traditional organized crime, the Italian mob. There are nowhere near enough of them."
The FBI says that "they do not yet demonstrate the established criminal sophistication of traditional Eurasian or La Cosa Nostra (LCN) organizations. There is no single Balkan 'Mafia' structured hierarchically like the traditional LCN. Rather, Balkan organized crime groups in this country translated their clan-like structure to the United States, they are not clearly defined or organized and are instead grouped around a central leader or leaders."
In early 2012, the White House sanctioned suspected Albanian mafia king pin Naser Kelmendi for drug trafficking. US President Barack Obama notified Congress saying he had sanctioned Kelmendi under the Kingpin Act, implemented by the US Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). Kalmendi is suspected of leading one of the strongest ethnic Albanian criminal families in the Balkans, according to the Treasury Department, he has long been suspected of running a large organization that traffics heroin, cocaine and acetic anhydride, a raw material used in the production of heroin, to Europe through the Balkans.
Rudaj Organization (New York)
One of the most famous Albanian criminal organization was the Rudaj Organization; in October 2004, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) arrested 22 men who worked for it. Among them was Alex Rudaj, the leader of the organization, whose arrest effectively ended the workings of the Rudaj, the arrests were made shortly after the men entered the territory of the Lucchese crime family in Astoria, Queens, New York, and supposedly beat up two members of the Lucchese family.
The name Rudaj comes from the head of the organization. According to The New York Times published in January 2006, "Beginning in the 1990s, the Corporation, led by a man named Alex Rudaj, established ties with established organized crime figures including members of the Gambino crime family, the authorities say. Then, through negotiations or in armed showdowns, the Albanians struck out on their own, daring to battle the Lucchese and Gambino families for territory in Queens, the Bronx and Westchester County, prosecutors say."
In 2001, Albanian mobsters stormed a Gambino hangout in Astoria, Queens, sending a brazen message to the family, the club, called Soccer Fever, was now theirs. The seven men who invaded the dimly lit basement club tore the joint apart, shot off handguns and beat the club manager bloody, prosecutors say, it was a bold move, and, prior to August 2001 unthinkable.
Gambino leader Arnold Squitieri had had enough and wanted a talk with these rogue mobsters, the "sit down" took place at a gas station in a rest area near the New Jersey turnpike. Squitieri did not come alone; twenty armed Gambino mobsters accompanied their boss. Alex Rudaj on the other hand had only managed to bring six members of his crew. According to undercover FBI agent Joaquin Garcia, who infiltrated the Gambino crime family during this period, Squitieri told Rudaj that the fun was over and that they should stop expanding their operations, the Albanians and Gambinos then pulled out their weapons. Knowing they were outnumbered, the Albanians threatened to blow up the gas station with all of them in it, this ended the discussion, and both groups pulled back.
By 2006, all the main players involved in this "sit down" were in prison. Rudaj and his Sixth Family had been picked off the street in October 2004 and charged with a variety of racketeering and gambling charges, after a trial, Rudaj and his main lieutenants were all found guilty. In 2006, Rudaj, at that time 38 years old, was sentenced to 27 years in prison, his rival Arnold Squitieri was convicted in an unrelated racketeering case and was sent to prison for seven years.
"What we have here might be considered a sixth crime family", after the five mafia organizations—Bonanno, Colombo, Gambino, Genovese, and Lucchese—said Fred Snelling, head of the FBI's criminal division in New York.
Speaking anonymously for Philadelphia's City Paper, a member of the "Kielbasa Posse", an ethnic Polish mob group, declared in 2002 that Poles are willing to do business with "just about anybody. Dominicans. Blacks. Italians. Asian street gangs. Russians, but they won't go near the Albanian mob. The Albanians are too violent and too unpredictable."
The Polish mob has told its associates that the Albanians are like the early Sicilian mafia—clannish, secretive, hypersensitive to any kind of insult, and too quick to use violence for the sake of vengeance.
Reliable information from Honduras indicates formidable Albanian mafia activity. According to WikiLeaks reports, Albanian mafia groups are affiliated with various South American politicians, and have set in motion to move their hidden assets in various banks, the Wikileaks report goes on to state that Albanian mafia groups are preying heavily in Central America, where all roads lead to Colombian cocaine. Albanian mafia groups are laundering money through banks in Honduras and investing a large amount in construction projects to further gain influence in South America.
Prominent Albanian mafiosi
- Zef Mustafa: associate to the Gambino family based in New York. He pleaded guilty to money laundering.
- Xhevdet Lika: was an American-Albanian kingpin who was notorious within the New York City criminal underworld. In the Book Contract Killer by Hoffman and Headley, it was noted that even though his is not a name of household familiarity in the American upperworld like "Al Capone" or "John Gotti", Xhevedet "Joe" Lika was known in the international underworld. The book also noted; "He didn't like Italians and they left him alone because he was so violent. Like Japanese kamikazes, his heavy hitter mobsters would go after John Gotti, Paul Castellano, or even President Reagan, if Lika gave the word. There was no way to stop people like that, and Mafiosi knew it".
- Joseph Ardizzone: Founder and first boss of the Los Angeles crime family
- Princ Dobroshi, One of the biggest heroin kingpins in Europe.
- Alfred Shkurti (also known as Aldo Bare): The boss of one of the most notorious criminal syndicates in Albania known as the “Banda e Lushnjës” (the Lushnja Gang). According to Albanian authorities, “Banda e Lushnjës” is one of the most notorious organized crime group based in Lushnja, Albania which has international operations. According to Albanian authorities,“Banda e Lushnjës”, under Aldo Bare "Leads one of the most important international drug trafficking rings"'
- Ismail Lika: According to the FBI, Ismail Lika was an Albanian mobster active in New York City in the 1980s. Dubbed the "King of the New York drug underworld", Ismail Lika issued a contract on Rudy Giuliani's prosecutors in 1985. Caught with at least $125 million in heroin, Lika issued a $400,000 contract on the prosecutor Alan Cohen and the detective Jack Delemore, both placed under protective custody.
- Lul Berisha: Leader of a notorious clan based in Durrës, Albania. Known as "Banda e Lul Berishes", the clan, by its complex structure is engaged in moving drug and arms trafficking and other criminal activities throughout Europe. According to German and Albanian authorities, the clans international drug and arms trafficking spans to Turkey, Bulgaria, Italy, and Germany.
- Armand Krasniqi: Former Albanian mafia kingpin based in Zagreb, Croatia. According to the Croatian newspaper (Jutarnji List"), Krasniqi led a powerful mafia clan with international operations.
- Naser Xhelili: Coined by Swedish Authorities as the "Albanian Connection" in Sweden, the Xhelili clan operations include drugs and arms trafficking in and around Sweden.
- Osmani Brothers: According to the German Federal Intelligence Service (Bundesnachrichtendienst) the Osmani brothers as the "most important figures of organized crime in Hamburg and other cities in Germany"
- Myfit Dika: Former drug kingpin of the “Balkan Criminal Enterprises,”; an international criminal organization which spanned from Canada, the United States, to Europe.
- Kapllan Murat: Belgium's most notorious mobster. He was one of the masterminds behind the kidnapping of former Belgian Prime Minister Paul Vanden Boeynants in 1989. Three days later, the criminals published a note in the leading Brussels newspaper Le Soir, demanding 30 million Belgian francs in ransom. Paul Vanden Boeynants was released (physically unharmed) a month later, on 13 February, when an undisclosed ransom was paid to the perpetrators.
- Gjavit Thaqi: Leader of the "Thaci Organization" which is a New York City-based organized crime syndicate. The Thaci Organization controls drug distribution cells in all five boroughs of New York City and Albany. According to the FBI, the Thaci Organization has international operations in Canada, the United States, and Europe.
- John Alite a.k.a. "Johnny Alletto" (born September 30, 1962) is a New York City based Albanian mobster. A former member of the Gambino crime family he was a friend and crew leader for John A. Gotti in the 1980s and 1990s. Following extradition from Brazil in 2006, he was convicted in Tampa, FL of several counts of murder conspiracy, racketeering and other charges stemming from allegedly heading a unit of the Gambino organization in Florida and was sentenced in 2011 to 10 years in prison (of which he had already served six), he was a prosecution witness against former associates, including Gotti and Charles Carneglia, in wide-ranging racketeering trials. While a part of the Gambino organization, because his family is Albanian, not Italian, Alite could not become a made member of the organization.
- Naser Kelmendi: The leader of a Balkan Criminal Empire, as coined by Bosnian authorities. According to a report presented by Interpol, the Kelmendi crime family heads one of the most powerful organized criminal organizations not only in BiH, but in the whole region, the Kelmendi organization has been involved in drug and cigarette trafficking, money laundering and loan sharking.According to the Interpol report, the organization's influence reaches to Montenegro, Kosovo, Republic of Macedonia, Croatia, Serbia, Germany and the US. Furthermore, according to the CIA Kalmendi leads one of the strongest ethnic Albanian criminal families in the Balkans. Kelmendi’s organization is believed to traffic in cocaine and heroin, as well as acetic anhydride, a basic ingredient in heroin production. Naser Kelmendi was apprehended on May 5 of 2013.
- Elvis Kelmendi, son of Naser Kelmendi has made headlines as a violent drug kingpin and was apprehended in May 2013.
- Ibrahim Habibovic: Uncle of Kelmendi (also known as Belo) Leader of a notorious clan based in Napoli, Italy. Known as "Banda e Belo", the clan, by its complex structure is engaged in moving drug and arms trafficking and other criminal activities throughout Europe. According to Italy and Serbian authorities, the clans international drug and arms trafficking spans to Turkey and M. East.
- Luan Plakici - "Vice King" of the Albanian mafia in the UK who was jailed for 10 years  (later increased to 23 years ) for trafficking women after promising them good jobs.
- Erkman Rock, the "Kingpin" of New York & New Jersey's Albanian mafia was featured on Americas Most Wanted and apprehended in May 2012.
- Baki Sadiki the head of the Albanian mafia in Slovakia
- Plaurent Dervishaj is a prominent Albanian mafia member that is being pursued by the FBI in The United States. He is presently listed on the FBI "Most Wanted" list which is known to provide financial rewards to individuals who assist in their capture.
- Dukagjin Nikollaj is an Albanian mafia member who is listed on the FBI Most wanted list for various crimes.
In popular culture
- An Albanian criminal organization in Paris is responsible for the kidnapping of Liam Neeson's character's daughter in the 2009 film Taken.
- Taken 2: In Istanbul, the retired CIA operative Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) and his wife are taken hostage by the Albanian mafia.
- The Expendables 3: The head of the Albanian Mafia is played by Robert Davi, who is aligned with a rogue arms dealer played by Mel Gibson.
- Drive: An American action-drama heist film which centers on a stunt performer in a heist gone wrong who gets entangled with an Albanian mafioso who is owed protection money. "Cook", the Albanian mafioso, is played by the Albanian-American actor James Biberi.
- Dead Man Down: The film plays best as a revenge story between protagonist Victor (Colin Farrell) and the Albanian mob who murdered his family and left him for dead.
- Run All Night: Run All Night is a 2015 American action thriller film starring Liam Neeson. When an Albanian mob drug deal goes wrong, Neeson must protect his son, who witnessed a murder.
- In the French movie The Nest the plot centers on an Albanian mob boss in police custody being escorted to the Hague.
- Albanian mobsters Rexho and Luan feature in the Danish crime film Pusher III.
- The Hornet (1998 film): A Serbian thriller in which the main protagonist is an Albanian mafia hitman who takes out his targets before the outbreak of the Kosovo War.
- Dossier K, a Belgian crime thriller, portrays the Albanian mafia in Belgium.
- In We Own the Night, a final drug transaction is made with the Albanian mafia.
- In the movie In With Thieves, a blood diamond deal goes wrong which throws Albanian mafioso into chaos in the criminal underworld.
- Let's Be Cops: Two struggling pals dress as police officers for a costume party and become neighborhood sensations. The trouble starts when the dress up police officers get entangled with an Albanian mob boss.
- In the British thriller Hyena, Albanian drug dealers and sex traffickers take control over London's underworld.
- In the movie Kindergarten Cop 2, the main antagonist is an Albanian mafiosi named Zogu.
*In the Law and Order: Criminal Intent episode "Blasters" (Season 6, Episode 9) two former child stars involved in bootlegging ring are being hunted down by the Albanian mob.
- The story arc "The Slavers" of the adult-oriented Marvel comic The Punisher: Frank Castle deals with Albanian criminals engaged in human trafficking.
- In the American TV show No Ordinary Family episode "No-Ordinary Mobster" deals with the main character attempting to stop violent Albanian mobsters.
- In the American Hit TV drama In Plain Sight the episodes "Aguna Matatala", and "Love in the Time of Colarado" both involve the Albanian Mafia.
- Investigation Discovery's "Discovery Times" episode
- In the TV series Almost Human, Season 1 episode "Skin", finds John and Dorian investigating the murder of Sebastian Jones, a high end bot maker at the hands of the Albanian mafia.
- In the American TV show Elementary episode "The Illustrious Client" the case leads to a sex trafficking ring run by the Albanian mafia.
- NCIS's season 12 episode "So It Goes" deals with a murder, involving one of Ducky's childhood friends, and a smuggling ring run by the Albanian mafia.
- In the British/American TV series Strike Back, heroes fight the Albanian mafia in Kosovo (Season 2, Episodes 7 and 8).
- In the novel Blood Trust by Eric Van Lustbader, protagonists fight against international slave trade, tied to a powerful Albanian crime lord, whose ability and influence in global terrorism grows with each day.
- Albanian war criminals of the Kosovo Liberation Army appear as minor characters in Dale Brown's novel Warrior Class.
- BESA novel written by Louis Romano
In video games
- An Albanian-based blackmarket group called the "Sesseri Syndicate" who traffic weapons and plutonium are featured as antagonists in the first three missions of SOCOM II (2003). United States Navy SEALs and British SAS operatives are charged with bringing down the Syndicate, first by shutting down an abandoned factory in Shkodër and eliminating the man overseeing the operation, a general named Mizlech Rugova, before assassinating or capturing the group's leader, Cassrioti Sesseri, at his family's castle in the mountains.
- The "North London Albanian Mob" or "Vulaj gang" appear as a non-playable gang in Gangs of London (2006).
- Grand Theft Auto IV (2008) features the "Petrela gang", a small crew of Albanian shylocks and goods smugglers. The only known members are Dardan Petrela, Kalem Vulaj, and Bledar Morina. Later in the game, Albanian gangsters appear as muscle for other organizations, such as the Cosa Nostra and the Bratva; in Liberty City, the Albanian mob holds a stronghold in the Little Bay section of Bohan.
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