Albania seizes 500,000 cannabis plants in major crackdown

In this photo taken on Thursday Aug. 25, 2015, a police officer carries cannabis plants in Kurvelesh commune, 200 kilometers (125 miles) south of the Albanian capital, Tirana. (AP Photo/Hektor Pustina)
Albanian authorities say they have confiscated about half a million cannabis plants this year, arresting 240 suspected growers and drug traffickers.
Interior Ministry spokesman Ardi Bita said Friday that fighting drug production is a "top priority" for police.
Some 7 billion euros ($7.9 billion) worth of marijuana has been seized and destroyed so far, Interior Minister Saimir Tahiri said.
On Wednesday, 100 police destroyed some 16,000 plants in Kurvelesh, south of Tirana.
Albania was long a major marijuana producer in Europe. A crackdown started last year, when police stormed the southern Lazarat village with armored personnel carriers — despite coming under automatic weapon and rocket fire by drug growers.
Prime Minister Edi Rama has set the fight against drugs as a main priority for his government, elected in 2013.

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