Albanian police have launched a major operation against cultivators of cannabis in the southern village of Lazarat following a complete encircled since Monday.
Police called for about 800 officers to bring the entire village under control and to restore law in the area. One officer and two civilians got injured in an exchange of gunfire in the operation up to now. Lazarat is the major exporter of cannabis producing 900 tonnes annually, worth 4.5 billion Euros ($6.1 billion) – the amount is almost half of Albania’s gross domestic product. The village is about 230km (140 miles) from the capital Tirana towards south and had been besieged since Monday. Police were received with heavy gunfire, rocket-propelled grenade and mortar shell fire on surrounding the area. The eye witnesses say village men are burning their marijuana plants causing the rise of smoke above the village before come closer to them. The operations progressed with surrender of the alleged gang leader while 10 others were hiding in a house. Interior Minister Saimir Tahiri told that the operation would continue until “every square centimeter in Lazarat is under state control”.