In the latest twist in the high-profile ‘Habilaj Brothers’ case, an Albanian village police chief was convicted of trafficking drugs to Italy.

Fugitive Albanian Ex-Police Officer Convicted of Drug Trafficking

Albania Special Prosecutors Office in Tirana. Photo: Albanian Prosecution Office.

A police officer in southern Albania was found guilty and jailed for eight years on Friday on drug trafficking charges stemming from a 2017 case that also ensnared the country’s former interior minister, Saimir Tahiri.

Tirana’s Special Court Against Organised Crime and Corruption found Sokol Bode, chief of police in the southern Albanian village of Dhermi, guilty in absentia.

Bode has been on the run since Italian police cracked a cannabis smuggling ring dubbed ‘the Habilaj Brothers.’

The group was responsible for smuggling huge amounts of cannabis to Italy between 2013 and 2017, when the Italian police moved against it, arresting a dozen people, including one of the Habilaj brothers, Moisi.

The arrests sent shockwaves through Albania, where the Habilaj brothers were known to be friends of then Interior Minister Tahiri.

Tahiri was convicted of abuse of power and is serving a prison sentence of a little more than three years. He was acquitted of drug trafficking charges.

A spokeswoman for the court said Judge Flojera Davidhi had sentenced Bode to 12 years in prison but that the accused, despite being on the run, benefitted from a reduction granted to defendants who acknowledge the proof set out by prosecutors without necessarily pleading guilty.

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