Albanian Village Fights with Cops over Weed

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Albanian Village Fights with Cops over Weed

Lazarat is known as Albania's drug capital; this year's intelligence reports suggest that the village is surrounded by more than 60 acres with approximately 300,000 cannabis plants; an estimated yield

Lazarat is known as Albania's drug capital; this year's intelligence reports suggest that the village is surrounded by more than 60 acres with approximately 300,000 cannabis plants; an estimated yield could amount to as much as 500 tons of marijuana.

The last time police and SWAT teams tried to enter the mountainside village Lazarat near the historic southern city of Gjirokastra in Albania last summer, they ended up in a situation a local police commissioner talking to the Global Post described as "a ferocious firefight, including heavy machine guns and anti-tank missiles, very much like war." Since the raid, the law enforcement has not returned and the drug trade has been allowed to flourish.

Lazarat is a tiny village known for its blooming cannabis business - according to the Italian financial police the annual harvest has a value of almost $6 billion. It is believed that 90% of the inhabitants are involved in the illegal activity and the villagers fight to close their village off to police forces and members of the media. And they are not squeamish, when the police tried to invade the village, the locals fought back and finally the police backed off because they feared a violent war and civilian casualties.

Officers are still seizing shipments outside Lazarat and stop water trucks trying to enter the village, but they, just like journalists and other members of the public media, are not able to enter the village because the roads into the village are guarded by the criminals. Last year, nearly 15 tons were seized.

Lazarat will most likely continue to prosper until politicians understand that it takes a well-considered law to end this war. This calls for a decision from the prime minister's office and nothing less.