DUBAI: Albanian police are questioning a driver allegedly caught attempting to smuggle eight guns inside a food basket that was to be delivered to a family in the UK.
The 34-year-old, who was was said to be driving a van with UK license plates, reportedly denied any knowledge of, or involvement with, the new Glock pistols and ammunition that were found by police at the port of Durres on the Albanian coast on Monday night, The Telegraph reported.
The weapons were discovered shortly before the Mercedes Benz van was due to board a ferry headed for Ancona in Italy. The driver’s ultimate destination was Luton, Bedfordshire, according to Albanian police, who said the food basket was to be delivered to a family there.
Police discovered the pistols when they searched the vehicle after being alerted by security scanners. According to local media, the driver, from Tirana, said an Albanian man he had never met before came to him with “a box saying he needed it to be delivered to a relative in the UK.” Two phone numbers for the person to whom the package was to be delivered were written on the box, the driver reportedly told police.
A police source said: “It’s crucial we find the other people involved in this. At this stage, from our interviewing, the driver denies having knowledge of the guns inside his vehicle.”
State police said the investigation is continuing and involves several law enforcement organizations.
Albanian gangsters have been trying to smuggle weapons into the UK through ports and the British government has been forced to beef up security, especially at Durres port, which was identified by UK and Albanian authorities in 2022 as a particular potential source of smuggling.
According to leaked police emails, the UK’s Border Force planned to deploy officers to Albania to help investigate plans for the port’s expansion and to advise on security measures to combat illegal immigration and the import of cocaine into Europe by organized crime gangs.
The force’s role, the documents revealed, would focus on the Albanian ports of Durres and Porto Romano to assess container traffic, roll-on/roll-off passengers, port and law enforcement information technology systems, and current operational capabilities at the port.