Members of a notorious Albanian-run cocaine smuggling gang in London have outraged the UK mass media by flaunting their illegally obtained wealth on Instagram.
The Daily Mail on Monday accused the Hellbanianz group of “brazenly flaunting their gangster lifestyle” by posting pictures of themselves draped over luxury cars, smoking drugs, sporting Gucci outfits and fielding a kind of cake made up of rolled-up 50 pound notes.
President of the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK) Ramush Haradinaj, a Kosovo Albanian former guerilla commander who served briefly as prime minister, speaks during an interview with Reuters at the AAK headquarters in Pristina December 4, 2012. REUTERS/Hazir Reka
A similar note of outrage was struck by the Sun and the Daily Mirror.
One picture shows a gang member holding a golden “game-of-thrones” style knuckleduster, encrusted with gems and formed in the shape of the letters HB, short of Hellbanianz.
Others show gang members in designer outfits adopting rapper-style poses and giving the middle finger to viewers.
Many pictures are accompanied by teasing phrases, in which the gangsters complain that they don’t know how to spend all their illegal drugs cash.
In a minute long video, a couple of gangsters fool around in their luxury limo, smoking drugs, singing a rap song and waving arms covered in gold watches.
Albanian gangsters in the UK have gained notoriety before for their publicity-seeking stunts and addiction to social media – which contrasts with the secretive culture of most other drug gangs.
The gangsters made media waves after one leading gang member was jailed in 2016. Tristen Asllani made media headlines by posting pictures from prison and messages on an Instagram site called My Albanian in Jail, showing him stripped to the waist, laughing and complaining: “The only thing missing [in UK jails] is whores”.
Other illegally posted pictures showed other jailed gang members stripped half-naked, flexing their biceps, dancing around, tucking into meals and boasting of having a good time. Iphones are banned in UK jails and prisoners are not allowed to post on social networks without specific permission.
The tabloids complained that, after posting the pictures, many British women had written to the macho-looking prisoners, asking to be their girlfriends.
Asllani was jailed for 25 years in 2016 after police in London found him in possession of millions of pounds’ worth of cocaine and a sub-machine gun.
According to UK Justice Ministry figures, there were 726 ethnic Albanians in British jails last year, out of a total prison population of just under 85,000.
That is less than 1 per cent of the total UK prison population. However, the steep rise in convictions of Albanians is causing concern. Only 267 ethnic Albanians were in UK jails in 2013, so the number has almost tripled in five years.
Of those 726 prisoners, 321 are there for drug related offences.
Under a 2013 prison transfer agreement with Tirana, the UK hoped to send many of the prisoners back to Albania. However, only 23 have been deported, as the process remains snagged by appeals.
About 4,000 prisoners in the UK in December 2017 were from EU countries, just under half of the foreign national total.
The highest number, 821, were from Poland, followed by Ireland, Romania and Lithuania. However, the Polish offending rate is low, considering the huge size of the community in the UK, numbering over a million. By contrast, the Albanian community numbers only in the tens of thousands – although the precise number is unknown, as many are believed to be in the country illegally.
Originally published on 2018-11-12
Author: Marcus Tanner
Source: Balkan Insight
Origins of images: Facebook, Twitter, Wikimedia, Wikipedia, Flickr, Google, Imageinjection & Pinterest.
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