Albanian police said they had found 47 new surveillance cameras illegally erected by gangs in the Durres region.
According to police, the cameras were erected “to provide information for criminal purposes, as well as to monitor the movements of the police.” Eight people are currently under investigation.
An additional 16 new surveillance cameras were discovered by police in the city of Vlora. According to police, they were erected for the same reason as the surveillance cameras installed in the Durres region.
“The finalization of the third phase of the [police] operation resulted in the dismantling of 16 cameras controlled by the criminal contingent for the purpose of information. The cameras were placed in high-traffic areas in the city,” reads a police statement.
Police first found surveillance cameras installed by gangs in the city of Shkodra. There, a total of 59 cameras were found.
The installation of surveillance cameras is against Albanian law under the banner of “protection of personal data,” and classifies the crime as “unjust interference in private life.”
According to the law, the placement of recording devices that expose the private lives of people without their consent is a crime punishable by a fine, or up to two years in prison.
All three cities where illegal surveillance cameras were found are known to have a high level of organized crime. There, gangs have been responsible for a series of murders in public spaces, trafficking in drugs, and managing inter-gang conflict with “explosive attacks.”
The placement of illegal cameras by gangs is common in other regions in the Balkans, particularly in Montenegro.
In April 2016, Montenegrin police found 21 illegal cameras installed in 11 locations across the coastal town of Kotor. The town has become renowned for being a trafficking hub, and the location for an ongoing war between rival drug gangs.
The ongoing gang war in Kotor began in 2015, after 300 kilograms of cocaine disappeared from an apartment in Spain the year previously. At least 40 people have been murdered in Montenegro, Serbia, Austria and Greece in connection with the conflict.
During police raids, Kotor police found a number of receivers for illegal surveillance equipment, owned by suspected drug traffickers.
In April 2016, illegal cameras were also found in the Montenegrin capital of Podgorica. By September that year, the Special State Prosecution opened an investigation into the issue.
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