An illegal migrant suspected of dealing cocaine and heroin has been caught roving the streets with an axe and meat cleaver after police lost him last year.
Arsen Spahiu, a 25-year-old Albanian, was arrested on suspicion of having cocaine and heroin with intent to supply in Southampton in April 2018, reports Portsmouth’s The News.
Police released Spahiu without charge pending investigation and promptly lost track of him, however — despite his status as an illegal migrant without leave to remain in the country.
Months later officers found the Albanian on the streets of Portsmouth armed with an axe and a meat cleaver, and carrying a bogus Italian driver’s licence.
He is thought to have broken into the country by concealing himself underneath a lorry, some time between 2015 and 2018.
Albanians have carved out an increasingly influential presence on the British crime scene in recent years, developing links with South American cartels and become major players in the high-quality cocaine trade.
“The Albanian impact has affected a number of cities,” admitted Chief Constable of Merseyside Andy Cook in 2018.
“The Balkan-region criminality is layered on top of other criminality from our homegrown criminals. The increase in cocaine and crack will be a driver [for violence],” he warned.
Albanian gangsters have been noted for their above-average propensity for violence, with police in London uncovering weapons caches including Skorpion sub-machine guns in their possession.
The National Crime Agency, which bills itself as a British version of America’s Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), has also noted that “criminals from the Balkans are increasingly expanding their network of influence, forming direct relationships with cocaine suppliers in Latin America”.
“It’s very much a group that’s small in number but big in impact,” added NCA Deputy Director-general Matthew Horne.
“We have seen an emergence of violence, particularly around enforcing the drug trade, in this group.”
The left-liberal Observer newspaper has suggested Albanian gangs’ success is a product of their clannishness and aggressiveness, rooted in their Muslim-majority homeland’s “medieval code of kanun [an “eye for an eye” code of law]”.