You may have heard of Italian organized crime. You may have heard of Russian organized crime. Now comes a group of alleged drug runners moving very expensive heroin into the United States and making big-time money. Albanian organized crime.
Albanian Organized Crime11/27/2009
Mr. Schiff: Hello I’m Neal Schiff and welcome to Inside the FBI, a weekly podcast about news, cases, and operations. You may have heard of Italian organized crime. You may have heard of Russian organized crime. Now comes a group of alleged drug runners moving very expensive heroin into the United States and making big-time money. Albanian organized crime. The FBI’s case is called Operation Black Eagle. Supervisory Special Agent Jim Farley at the Newark, New Jersey FBI office is leading the investigation, which features a couple of dangerous fugitives.
Mr. Farley: “Well the first one is Kujtim Lika, who also goes by the name of Timmy. The second one is Myfit Dika, his aka (nickname) is Mike Dika. And the third one, which was a fugitive up until last week and the Albanian National Police on our Interpol notice actually picked him up in Albania, which is a good cooperative relationship we have with them over the past few years was Gazmir Gjoka. And again, he was just picked up last week, which is a testament to the international working relationship with our counterparts overseas.”
Mr. Schiff: We asked Farley if he was being extradited back to the United States.
Mr. Farley: “Yes. We we've had great success getting fugitives from Albania extradited to the United States in a fast fashion. It’s been very successful. So he’s been indicted on conspiracy to distribute narcotics, as Myfit Dika and Kujtim Lika have also been charged with conspiracy to distribute narcotics.”
Mr. Schiff: We asked Farley what areas are they operating and what have they been doing?
Mr. Farley: “The whole organization was about 24 strong. But these two, Lika and Dika, were basically the leaders of the organization, or at least one facet of it. They were involved in an international conspiracy to smuggle in over 100 kilograms of heroin from Albania and also were involved in actually selling us a kilo-and-a-half of heroin, which they cut on tape for us, showing how they could cut heroin and dilute it down, so you could make more money on the street. Their coverage was mostly in Northern New Jersey, New York, but with ties to Chicago, Detroit, and Texas, and international ties back home in Macedonia and Albania.”
Mr. Schiff: We wanted to know how the drugs got into the United States. How were they shipped here?
Mr. Farley: “The shipping routes, you know, they vary. The organization used various shipping routes. The plan for the 100-kilo smuggling was to use a front furniture company out of Albania or Macedonia, ship it by sea in containers with the furniture into the port of Newark or another port that would've been agreed upon, and transport it that way. Another individual, Gjoka, who was just picked up in Albania, actually came in and had a few kilos of heroin here in the United States, which Dika and Lika helped facilitate that deal with our undercover (FBI agent working undercover). How that actually got in here we are not sure, but the testing of the heroin and the conversations that we have on tape, it demonstrates that the heroin that this group could get their hands on is usually coming from Afghanistan, down through Turkey, and into Albania, and then either fast-boated over through Europe or shipped through the front company into the United States.”
Mr. Schiff: Farley says they made a lot of money and drugs were valued at a high rate.
Mr. Farley: “Well they make a lot of money on any heroin deal here because the price is always going to be increased as it gets into the United States to include transportation costs and whatever other events they have to go through to get here. Specifically paying the transporters and paying the local distributors. When we did the kilo-and-a-half deal, it was approximately, I think $90.000, which came out to $60,000 cash-front payment, and then another $30,000 cash-front payment. That’s just doing one small deal. It was going to be a multi-million dollar deal and apparently these guys with the 100 kilogram conspiracy were just going to just basically retire. A whole host of them were going to make enough money they were never going to have to work again in their life. In addition to the heroin, they also were involved in illegal, stealing pharmaceuticals and selling pharmaceuticals, some ecstasy dealing, stolen goods, contraband, you name it, gambling. This money always exchanging hands, large amounts of it. Sometimes they're broke, sometimes they're not, depends on how the gambling went, but we were talking about money laundering conspiracies for the whole organization, and heroin conspiracy for the whole organization, that was up in the millions.”
Mr. Schiff: This was quite a large operation.
Mr. Farley: “We charged 24 people, I believe, in the case. Seventeen have been arrested. With Albanian organized crime it’s different than the LCN (La Cosa Nostra). There is no true hierarchy. It’s hard to determine exactly where the leadership is, and where the organization ends, and where it begins. It’s mostly a loose-knit group where whoever has the goods at the time, whoever has the connections at the time, moves up in the chain and takes control of that and then it can switch. They go to each other for whoever has an in to whatever criminal activity is being pursued. It’s very difficult to counter because we can’t determine the hierarchy because it is fluid; so it’s a different way; its an emerging problem. Albanian organized crime is becoming more of a difficult task for us. It’s growing and it’s a large concern, so we continue on with the investigation; we have charged, I think, 24 to 26 defendants, arrested 17. These two are probably the most significant due to their standing in the community and their history, and we’re looking to try to get these two so we can debrief them, hopefully someday, and find out a little more on the intelligence gaps that are out there are on Albanian organized crime.”
Mr. Schiff: We asked Farley about what these guys look like. Do they have any outstanding characteristics marks and scars, tattoos and the like?
Mr. Farley: “No. Lika, he wears a baseball all the time; he’s very cautious, he’s very sly. He’s an expert on narcotics, maintains a lot of girlfriends, enjoys to gamble—probably a degenerate gambler, but we have to determine what degenerate means I guess as far as that’s concerned. Dika, the same—a big-time gambler, very surveillance conscious; has a drug history. He’s been arrested for heroin trafficking in the past, did ten years. Has tattoos on his left bicep of a bald eagle, and on his right bicep he has a tattoo that says ‘Death Before the Sun;’ there might be a dragon on his left bicep as well.”
Mr. Schiff: We talked to Farley about what other kind of work these guys have done besides doing drugs.
Mr. Farley: “Most of the work that they've done, as far as trying to show legitimate work, is all in the restaurant business—opening up restaurants; working in restaurants; associating with people in the restaurant business from the Castle Tavern and Marina in Greenwood Lake to other locations where they either worked at or had some type of economic interest in, it’s mostly the restaurant business.”
Mr. Schiff: You may be able to help find these very dangerous people, Myfit Dika and Kujtim Lika. Their wanted flyers are posted on the Internet at www.fbi.gov . In case you have information, contact your nearest FBI office. If outside of the United States, please contact the nearest embassy or consulate. That’s our show for this week. Thanks for listening. I’m Neal Schiff of the FBI’s Office of Public Affairs.