Organized crime is at its strongest when the state is at its weakest and most vulnerable. Organized crime groups originating in Albania are no different to this rule, and began consolidating their power bases throughout the country with the death of longtime strongman, Enver Hoxha. Who had served as head of state from 1944 - 1985 in a regime perhaps best characterized by its use of enforced labour and extrajudicial killings; often at the hands of Hoxha's secret police, the Sigurimi.
When Hoxha fell ill to a heart attack and died April 1985, he left in his place a power vacuum which Albania's subsequent Communist leaders struggled to fill. At the time the country was suffering as a pariah state with one of the worst economies in Europe, a gift which Hoxha had left behind after nearly four decades of despotism.
To combat this, Communist leaders introduced reforms just as the surrounding Communist regimes were doing throughout Europe. These processes were expedited with the violent overthrow of fellow Romanian Communist leader, Nicolae Ceauşescu in 1989 but nonetheless, Communism in Albania was fast deteriorating.
Criminal groups throughout the country capitalized upon the subsequent chaos that fast changing governments and rising rebellions left in their wake throughout the 1990's. Which today has given rise to no less than fifteen different crime families in the country whom are known for their fearlessness, cunning and highly structured hierarchies and apparatus'.
Many of these groups are also thought to have aided Albanian forces during the Kosovo War in the late 90's, wherein the Kosovo Liberation Army (the KLA) was known to be trading narcotics in exchange for weapons throughout Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and neighbouring Albania.
These activities of weapons and arms smuggling are thought to have evolved into other criminal practices such as the operating of brothels, as well as abductions and murders of non-combatants. Through this we can see that Albanian organized crime shares a complex relationship with the ethnic conflicts of the 90's which plagued almost all aspects of the Balkans and subsequently gave rise to a number of different powerful syndicates throughout the area. Whether Albanian, Serbian, Croatian or otherwise.