Revealed: Albanian crooks suspected of murder, drug-trafficking and armed robbery are holed up in the UK and protected by crime syndicates as a safe haven to evade justice
- Albanian criminal suspects are using UK to evade justice using crime syndicates
- Experts say fugitives use people-smuggling routes to cross the Channel to enter
- MPs say problem demonstrates why Priti Patel’s proposed reforms are necessary
Albanians suspected of crimes including murder, drug-trafficking and armed robbery are using the UK as a safe haven to evade justice, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.
There has been a flood of recent cases in which EU states are trying to extradite Albanian men accused, and in some cases convicted, of serious crimes overseas who have fled to the UK and gone into hiding, according to court records.
Experts say the fugitives use people-smuggling routes to cross the Channel and are then protected by Albanian criminal syndicates.
Tory MPs say the growing problem demonstrates why sweeping reforms proposed by Home Secretary Priti Patel, including tougher sentences for smugglers and those caught entering the UK illegally
Experts say the fugitives use people-smuggling routes to cross the Channel and are then protected by Albanian criminal syndicates
Tory MPs say the growing problem demonstrates why sweeping reforms proposed by Home Secretary Priti Patel, including tougher sentences for smugglers and those caught entering the UK illegally, are ‘important’ and ‘necessary’ – yet the plans have been condemned by charities and Labour.
At least 30 wanted Albanian men discovered living in the UK have faced extradition hearings since January last year, according to records at Westminster Magistrates’ Court, which handles all such proceedings in England and Wales.
Half of the extradition requests were made by the Italian government, including that of Ergys Gerbeti, 38, who was convicted of possessing and supplying cocaine but fled house arrest last year and slipped into the UK.
He was arrested last September and agreed to be extradited at a court hearing in February.
Italy is also trying to extradite Mentor Shehu, 47, who is suspected of being part of the notorious Shijak cartel that shipped cocaine to Italy on ferries from the Albanian port of Durres.
He was jailed for eight years for drug offences in 2010 but fled to Britain in 2014 after completing his parole. He is in prison awaiting a court’s decision on the extradition bid.
Meanwhile, police swooped on armed robber Faiken Dokaj at Luton Airport last month. He had been hiding in the UK since 2018 after being sentenced in Italy for six robberies. Despite being a fugitive, he had married and acquired the right to reside in the UK.
An Italian judicial source said Britain was an attractive place to hide because of existing Albanian criminal networks, adding: ‘London is a big international city and it is easy to be anonymous there.’
Tony Saggers, a former drug threat official at the National Crime Agency, said some Albanian crime bosses may be moving to the UK to exert ‘command and control’ over the lucrative cocaine trade.
Under Ms Patel’s reforms, people-smugglers will face new maximum life sentences, while anyone who pays gangs to bring them here will only ever receive temporary permission to remain and be regularly assessed for removal from the UK.