South Yorkshire Police are teaming up with Albanian law enforcement and aiming to target organised criminal gangs operating in the UK.
The partnership, called the Joint Investigation Team (JIT), and comprising of officers from South Yorkshire Police’s Modern Day Slavery and Serious and Organised Crime Vulnerability Team will work with Albania’s Special Anti-Corruption Structure (SPAK). Together, they say they will target serious organised crime.
Police say the partnership has already reaped rewards after the two agencies collaborated and brought to justice two criminals who held two victims captive in Sheffield. 39-year-old Lithuanian Valdemaras Kasinskas and 27-year-old Albanian Andi Alushi were jailed at Sheffield Crown Court last week for those offences.
And now, South Yorkshire Police say their partnership, a first in the UK, will help them target organised crime. Detective Chief Inspector Mark Oughton, said: “We knew very early on in our investigation that this case was going to require international collaboration, given that the victims were from Albania and had potentially been trafficked into the UK to be exploited, and the suspects were from Albania and Lithuania.
“Initial enquiries revealed that the victims had been held and abused in a bid to extort money from their families, who were still in Albania. It was evident that we were looking at serious organised cross-border criminality and so, working with the Complex Case Unit of the Crown Prosecution Service, we approached The Hague for authorisation to carry out enquiries in Europe and to ask Lithuanian and Albanian law enforcement for their help.”
Albanian gangs and Lithuanian gangs have gained notoriety, and the Albania mafia has been exposed as controlling the cocaine market in the UK and flooding it with £5 billion worth of the dangerous drug reports the Mirror. In Yorkshire, Albanian gangs have been fingered in the cannabis market.
But on the back of their latest successful prosecution, police say they will target gangs coming out of Albania and Lithuania. DCI Oughton continued: “Eurojust’s support was truly invaluable to our investigation – we were able to travel to Lithuania and Albania to carry out essential enquiries. With their coordination, we were able to establish the UK’s first JIT with Albania’s Special Anti-Corruption Structure (SPAK).
“What this essentially meant was that we could travel to Albania and follow up vital lines of enquiry, which is what we did. Working with the National Crime Agency, the Albanian Embassy, SPAK and the Foreign Law Enforcement Community (FLEC), we were also able to speak with the victims’ families and understand the impact that Kasinskas and Alushi’s crimes had had on their lives.
“This was a true partnership effort and it has been a privilege to work so closely with the Albanian Embassy, SPAK, FLEC and Eurojust.”
Source : Examiner Live