Albanian crime gangs top list of most feared foreign gangsters (Peter Laing, Deadline News, Jan. 15)

AT least 25 foreign crime gangs are operating in Scotland, according to investigations by the country’s equivalent of the FBI.

Detectives are said to be particularly concerned about the arrival of the “ultra-violent” Albanian mafia.

Gangsters from the impoverished Balkan state have muscled in to Scotland’s drug and vice trades, according to the Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency (SCDEA).

They have identified 267 organised crime groups, of which at least 25 are from abroad.

But it is Albanian gangs – known as the Mafia Shqiptare – that are causing particular concern.

The gangs are said to have been brutalised by the conflicts in the Balkans in the 1990s and sit on worldwide trade routes for guns, drugs and women.

Ah, there it is. And still no clue that maybe it was they who were doing the brunt of the brutalizing.

The Mafia Shqiptare are believed to have taken over the sex trade in London’s Soho district and even reduced the power of the feared Italian Mafia in their own areas.

Stephen Whitelock, a Detective Chief Superintendent with the SCDEA, said… “The Albanians are here now. Some of the individuals concerned are known to be capable of extreme violence.

It is thought Albanian crime families arrived in the UK in the aftermath of the 1999 Kosovo war. The families are relatively small but strongly bonded by a code of honour and blood feuds.

Former SCDEA boss Graeme Pearson, now a Labour MSP, said: “The Albanians are a bit of a challenge because they have a military background in their homelands and their criminal elements have a very violent history. They are very difficult groups to penetrate.”