Albanian outfits have pushed out rivals by slashing the price of the drug.

Albanian gangsters have taken control of the UK’s cocaine market by imitating the “Amazon model” of using efficiency gains to offer high-quality products at the lowest possible price.

Tony Saggers, former head of drugs at the National Crime Agency (NCA), said the extraordinary success of Balkan criminals in Britain meant that the price of cocaine had been slashed by a third — to £30,000 a kilo — in five years.

At a conference earlier this month the former senior law enforcement official said Albanians had managed to undercut drug trafficking rivals by forging direct relationships in Latin America, the region where most of the world’s cocaine is produced from indigenous coca leaves.

One kilo of cocaine can be bought for as little as £3,800 in the jungles of Colombia and sold for almost £60,000 in Britain once it has been mixed with cutting agents and divided into grams.

Saggers said the eastern Europeans’ grip on the UK drugs market had made them leading figures in the underworld and allowed them to compete with traditionally powerful domestic organised crime syndicates.

“I don’t think there is another commodity on the planet that generates that sort of difference between production and retail value,” he said. “The Albanians are controlling cocaine from Latin America all the way into our marketplace.”

The news that the price of cocaine has slumped will raise fresh fears over the impact of the drug on British society. The Sunday Times revealed in June that a Home Office report blamed the recent rise in murders and robberies on cocaine flooding into the country.

Last week the inquest into the death of socialite Daisy Boyd, 28, heard that she had sent pictures of herself snorting cocaine to another patient hours before she killed herself in a private psychiatric hospital in London.

Saggers, who retired from the NCA last year, explained how Albanians had come to dominate the UK underworld. He said organised crime syndicates had moved into western Europe after the refugee crisis caused by the war in Kosovo between 1998 and 1999.

“The Kosovo crisis generated a lot of movement. Many Albanian criminals took advantage of that, pretended to be Kosovans and moved to Europe,” he said.

“They established themselves, sometimes with new identities but certainly with residency status. And they did that for criminal gain. They saw the opportunity.”

Saggers added that the Albanian people’s struggles under communism — a regime that ruled the country from the end of the second world war until 1992 — had prepared them for the tough world of international drugs trafficking.

“They have gone through instability and had to fight for survival. Smuggling became an important part of Albanian culture when they were part of the communist regime. They are very good smugglers,” he said.

“They came here under the guise of fleeing conflict and set up efficient, amicable business models, but with an underlying emphasis [to rivals] of: we don’t want to fall out with you . . . but trust us, you want to fall out with us less.

“They have a long-term approach to success. They have got rich slowly. They now dominate drugs market prices by selling at the lowest price. They don’t impact upon purity by adulterating it — they make relationships upstream and establish staging posts through Europe and they have done everything in a slow, efficient, sustainable way.

“If they weren’t doing what they are doing, you’d take your hat off to them and say this is a fantastic business model.”

Key to the Albanians’ success in the UK, according to Saggers, is their ability to deal directly with people in Latin America. He said the price of the drug escalates as it is carried from Colombian jungles via South American ports across the Atlantic to the European ports of Antwerp and Rotterdam, both cocaine transit hubs, where it is sent on for sale on the streets of Britain.

“Every single stage comes with risk,” said Saggers. “And the more people that are involved in the risk heightens the likelihood that people in the supply chain would be exposed.

“Wherever you buy from and your position in the supply chain will determine the price you pay. The really successful drug traffickers are the ones that can go straight into Latin America and control the activity all the way to the UK.”

Saggers said the Albanians were so successful that they had “individually and systematically brought the price down from over £45,000 a kilo five years ago to about £30,000 a kilo now”.

The number of patients admitted to UK hospitals suffering from cocaine- related “mental disorders” has more than doubled in the past 10 years.

In 2007-8, 5,148 patients were admitted to hospital suffering from “mental and behavioural disorders due to use of cocaine”. By 2016-17 the figure had risen to more than 12,000, according to figures from NHS Digital.

Last year Britons consumed 30 tons of the drug — more than any other country in Europe and up by 40% in 20 years. Despite this, the NCA has had some notable successes against Albanian organised criminals.

Khalad Uddin, 35, described as the “kingpin” in an elaborate drug-dealing UK network, was jailed for 16 years in June last year. Olsi Beheluli, an actor and model from Albania, was jailed for 15 years for drug dealing after he posted a photograph of himself on Twitter surrounded by £240,000 in cash.

Source: Sunday Times

So a number of our managers met to discuss digitalization under the theme ‘Mission Possible’. We have for a number of years been working with the digitalizion of Customs and Trade.

Vidar Gundersen, our visionary global sales and marketing manager and business guru

Our business is in a great change, the biggest change ever. We are leading in this change. We want to be a driver. And we are.

During the meeting we discussed going to the market with a number of new services that will be revoutionary to our industry. Exiting times.

With Björn Höglund, Dirctor Trade and Customs Consulting Nordic

The future is bright and global trade is in a very dramatic and dynamic period of change. Global trade is growing and we know it is one of the best ways to develop our socities. At the same time we have emerging trade wars and protectionism and huge technical and informatiläon leaps ahead of us. It is great to feel that we are paving the way of our industry being at the forefront of a technology revolution.

Speaking about Brexit and Multichannel Strategies at the meeting

We will soon have following up meeting with all staff around these issues including our new innovative sustainability strategy that we also discussed at the meeting.

Carol-Ann O’Keefe, Assistant Principal Officer at Revenue Commissioners (Irish Customs), told business leaders in Ireland that it is inevitable that Brexit will generate additional costs, administration, and delays at Irish ports but much is being done by Irish authorities to minimise these.

Irish goods exporters and importers are being advised to expect delays at ports, whatever form of Brexit the British government negotiates, be that soft, hard, or no-deal.

“Once Brexit occurs, and Britain leaves the EU, it will be classed as ‘a third country’, outside the single market,” said O’Keefe. “It doesn’t matter what kind of customs union is in place, or whether there is a free-trade agreement. After Brexit, full customs declarations will be required for all goods imports and exports shipped between Ireland and the UK.

Sky News writes that PM May during her speech yesterday used a surprise statement in Downing Street to issue an ultimatum to the bloc to accept her Chequers plan or come up with counterproposals.

She declared the UK will continue preparations for a “no-deal” Brexit, amid what she recognised as an “impasse” over “two big problems” in negotiations.

In addition, Mrs May dismissed talk of a second EU referendum, which some EU leaders had spoken in hope of during the Salzburg summit.

She added: “The referendum was the largest democratic exercise this country has ever undergone. To deny its legitimacy or frustrate its result threatens public trust in our democracy. No one wants a good deal more than me. But the EU should be clear: I will not overturn the result of the referendum. Nor will I break up my country.”

You can read the article here: Sky News Theresa May branded ‘uncompromising’ by EU after demanding ‘respect’ from Brussels

Source: Sky News

Maybe it is finally time to say goodbye to airport queues. If so it is not a day too lte. Lastvyear more than 4 billion prople travelled by airplane.

This text is written by Rob Leslie for WEF.

‘Sitting around the dinner table recently at a family gathering my sister, who lives in Paris, was venting her frustrations about the queues she experienced recently at the electronic border gates in Heathrow airport.

My brother then chimed in with his experiences, which went something along the lines of: “I couldn’t get through either, the machine didn’t like the look of me!”

I asked if he had removed his glasses, as they might have affected the facial scanner. He said he hadn’t been asked to remove them; had he known, he would have.

This conversation highlights an important point – that while the biometric or e-passport is better than its predecessors, it is still not the perfect solution. We cannot lose sight of the customer experience in the rush to deploy the latest technology because of its touted gains in efficiency or the increased return on investment. The customer experience must be better than what exists now: 20 or 30 seconds for a passenger to clear an e-gate is too long when there are 400 people behind them waiting to be processed. It needs to be two or three seconds.

With 1.8 billion international arrivals expected 2030, identity management is going to become even more complex because not all countries, government agencies, airports and airlines are at the same level of maturity. It is absolutely critical that all the actors in the travel ecosystem know with certainty that every passenger is who they claim to be. This will require new processes to be designed, tested and adopted which will in turn require significant increases in transparency, industry and governmental cooperation and better communication between all the stakeholders. New technologies like biometrics, blockchain and ero-knowledge proofs have a significant role to play.

One possible solution under development for creating a better airport and travel experience is a passenger token. The token uses a passenger’s facial biometric data to identify them at the various points in the airport where there is an engagement of some kind. This removes the need for the regular presentation of travel documents at every step of their journey.

To make this possible, the passenger’s facial biometric must be bound to their ticket, visa, boarding pass and passport at the very start of their journey. This could work as follows: the passenger checks-in at home and declares their passport details as part of this process. These details can be securely verified with their government’s passport office using privacy-preserving technologies such as zero-knowledge proofs; the passport office packages the e-passport and other associated travel details into a token, with the customer’s express consent included to allow it to be accessed by parties who need to view it. This information is then made available to the relevant government agencies, airports and airlines for the duration of the traveller’s journey’.

Source: WEF

Let me start by thanking the beautiful city of Salzburg, the Austrian EU Presidency. -//-

It is a truly impressive; the hospitality, the logistics, and it is not an empty compliment. It is one of the best political performances I ever experienced. -//-

At our EU27 working lunch today we had a good discussion on Brexit, which once again reconfirmed our full unity. Let me highlight three points.

First, we reconfirmed that there will be no Withdrawal Agreement without a solid, operational and legally binding Irish backstop. And we continue to fully support Michel Barnier in his efforts to find such a model.

Second, we agreed to have a joint political declaration that provides as much clarity as possible on the future relations. Everybody shared the view that while there are positive elements in the Chequers proposal, the suggested framework for economic cooperation will not work. Not least because it risks undermining the Single Market.

Third, we also discussed the timetable for further negotiations. The moment of truth for Brexit negotiations will be the October European Council. In October we expect maximum progress and results in the Brexit talks. Then we will decide whether conditions are there to call an extraordinary summit in November to finalise and formalise the deal.

You can read the entire statement here: Donald Tusk Salzburg