Friday, March 24, 2023

Albanian Daily News

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A murder in a pizzeria in the center of Strombeek-Bever has led to the dismantling of a large drug gang, as 12 people appeared before the Brussels criminal court for their role in the large-scale drug trafficking. The two ringleaders risk 12 and 13 years in prison. 

In April 2020, the center of Strombeek-Bever was shaken by a shooting. A local resident informed the police after shouts came from a neighboring pizzeria just before the shots were fired. He found the 42-year-old owner of the pizza restaurant in question with a gunshot wound. The man was resuscitated, but died at the scene of his injuries. 

The shooter fled, but shortly afterwards he was caught in nearby Merchtem. He had set fire to the vehicle in which the murder weapon was located, after which he took off on a folding bicycle. The suspect, a 35-year-old Albanian, is still in pre-trial detention awaiting trial. 

It soon became apparent that there was a link with the drug environment. After all, selling pizzas and pastas turned out not to be the pizzeria’s core business.  

“The victim was the head of a drug organization. After his death, that trade continued and his brother and the owner of the pizzeria became the head of the organization, “said the public prosecutor’s office.  

“The widow played a role for a while, but was eventually pushed aside.”  

However, the latter was relative. She still received 10 percent of the proceeds. In December of 2020, a series of house searches were carried out. This showed that twelve, mainly Albanians and Bulgarians, imported and exported cocaine from Strombeek-Bever. These 12 had to answer for the Brussels criminal court on Friday morning for their role in drug trafficking.  

“They have trafficked at least 84 kilograms of cocaine, always following the same route,” said the public prosecutor’s office. They were imported from Colombia to the Netherlands. They were then cut up in Belgium and then taken to Italy in a vehicle with a hidden compartment. The money paid for the cocaine traveled back to Belgium in the same compartment”.  

The business made huge profits for the gang. As an example; the widow alone would have earned 1.2 million euros from the drug trade. 

As an example; the widow alone would have earned 1.2 million euros from the drug trade. As an example; the widow alone would have earned 1.2 million euros from the drug trade. 

It also turned out not to be the best coke one could get in Brussels and the surrounding area. Money was central to the gang and this was reflected in the quality.  

They received cocaine with a purity level of 95 to 96%. Due to extreme cutting with procaine and boric acid, the purity level dropped to 33 percent. The Halle-Vilvoorde public prosecutor’s office presented them with a (proposal) bill.  

The two ringleaders face prison sentences of twelve and thirteen years and prison terms of five to eight years for the other gang members, including the murder victim’s widow. The defense won’t speak for several months, the HLN reported.

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