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  1. THE BEJKO ORGANIZATION ‘" Politics’, ‘business’ and ‘organized crime’ – are the key denominators of the above episodes, which, like many other similar ones, have been blows against public safety and a challenge to the state. Such episodes have always been followed by harsh debates, political rhetoric or even political or legal action. Attention has tended to focus closely on the consequences rather than the circumstances that created the space and opportunity for the criminals to use excessive violence. Unfortunately, acts such as the above are not a new phenomenon; executions from bullets, explosives or beheadings by criminal gangs have happened previously and have left their mark on the collective memory. However, in Albania, history continues to repeat itself. In December 2015, Albania approved one of the harshest criminal laws in Europe against the involvement of incriminated persons in politics and decision-making. The so-called law on “decriminalization” was an effort to correct a phenomenon that had flourished because of the favourable terrain created over the years in this country. In order to better understand these factors and the nature of criminal organizations in Albania, from their emergence to the present day, we collected, processed and analysed qualitative and quantitative data of a social, economic and political nature, from 1990 to date. From a review of a considerable number of judicial decisions from the courts of different districts, instances and periods, we were able to provide a clear overview of the emergence, development and sophistication of 50 organized criminal structures operating in the form of armed gangs, criminal organizations and structured groups. Various experts such as judges, prosecutors, lawyers, police officers and investigative journalists provided their views on the nature and features of the different criminal organizations. This research, which was carried out on a national basis, is supported by five case studies of criminal organizations operating in different localities and periods. " The streets of Tirana and the roots of Albanian-American organized crime In Tirana, Pjeter Marku lived with his mother, grandmother and her young adult son in a part of town called Selvia, and rented a car that I drove on highways that are pitch-black at night and have no speed limits. He went through cities where the traffic lights are suggestions, weaving through the chaos of donkey carts, overloaded motorcycles and pedestrians crossing everywhere. There were no sidewalks. The crumbling walls of many of the buildings were covered by gang tags: graffiti that said fuck this and fuck that, a picture of a smoking spliff on one wall, the phrase "criminal boys" tagged, in English, on the wall of a prison. The streets that had businesses on them were lined with coffee shops, casinos, and one pharmacy after another that sold drugs like Xanax and Ambien over the counter. In a bleak, run-down cement apartment building, "Toni Montana" was graffitied on a hallway wall outside. I went there to visit a divorced mother who was fighting cancer, who lives with her mother and her young adult son who has to hustle to pay under the table for medical treatment. Pjeter was only 12 years old when he was tasked with the daunting responsibility of being a nurse to his terminally ill mom. She was in her last stages of nasopharyngeal cancer, and because we couldn’t afford hospital care and treatments, she opted to live out her final months in her childhood home in the province. More than a decade after his mother died of cancer, her death still haunts me. It was no doubt a painful time, but it was also filled with so many profound moments. His mother, even in her all too fragile state, was indirectly teaching me valuable life lessons, which later on became my weapon and armor to survive adulthood. Pjeter arrived to New York City 8 years after his mothers death on a blistering hot day in June. Twenty-three, ten bags and one roller coaster of a journey ahead of him. He relived nights out at the same clubs, bars, pubs, and restaurants week after week and desperately needed a change. He persevered and made a friendship circle who had now became his rock in the city. The circle hanging around Pjeter started to become a small-time criminal crew in New York which actively hung around clubs, bar pubs and restaurants and collected the filthy jobs from the Italians mobsters. The members of the Marku crew in New York loved Scarface, Donnie Brasco, Goodfellas, John Gotti and the Iceman. One nicknamed himself "Tony Montana." They hustled hard and all-in, with seemingly no regard for consequences, taking equally reckless approaches to their dealings with other dangerous gangsters and the police. For them, it wasn't about business—they seemed committed to the life, at all costs. They practiced shooting at gun ranges, and then shot off their weapons in a coffee shop and, another time, from a car going down the highway in celebration after a drug deal. They bought gun after gun, with accessories—Glocks, silencers, shotguns, 9 mms, semi-automatics, hollow-point bullets, bulletproof vests. They picked up a gun from a fellow restaurant worker for 50 dollars and bought a machine gun from a former soldier. They’d refer to the weapons in code, saying to each other in Albanian, “Make sure you bring that thing (sende) with you.” Multiple figures with violent records seen frequenting Los Santos. Possible resurgence of Albanian Organized Crime? By James Miller. APRIL 10, 2021 11:08 AM PT Once considered as the ‘sixth family’ by the FBI's criminal division of New York, ever after Rudaj’s arrest in 2006, it was safe to assume that Albanian organized crime in NY had been beyond crippled. But as most criminal organizations, when an individual takes the fall, others adapt & emerge to make the most out of whatever remains. Like several other groups, while their hay-days are far beyond over, reports suggest multiple small-time crews continue operating around Astoria & Queens. A striking feature seen among Albanians remains to be the phenomenon of brotherhood, which has continuously faded among other criminals over the past few decades. The most notable example is the involvement of an Albanian-American Police Officer Besnik Llakatura in 2015. FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Sweeney stated, “Besnik Llakatura took an oath to serve and protect the citizens of New York City as an officer of the NYPD, while simultaneously pledging his allegiance to a violent organized crime group bent on shaking down local Queens business owners within the Albanian community.” Among the list of charged defendants, two notable names were of Pjeter Marku & Tony Bejko, both emigrated to the United States as refugees of war in mid 90s according to reports. Bejko who wasn’t found guilty on any charges has moved to Los Santos ever since, while Pjeter Marku, released in February after a five year sentence has been seen frequenting LS and spotted with Bejko on numerous occasions. Experts believe throughout the course of his stay in Los Santos, Bejko has continued to dabble into the LS underworld. Tried in 2020 for narcotics distribution, Bejko once again was proven not guilty with lack of testimony. With Marku’s unexpected move, the two are suspected to cash in further on what the city has to offer, going back to their old habits.
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