http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/breitbart/~3/jGAHMO4Y9PQ/

Members of Albanian drug gangs are reportedly claiming to be victims of modern slavery to avoid serving jail time in Britain, as they continue their push to corner the marijuana black market.

Albanian “gardeners” are being brought into the country illegally to staff massive grow houses, equipped with booby-traps in barbed-wire protected compounds. Once in the country, the workers are then provided access to a network of “professional enablers”, including accountants, translators, and solicitors.

A report from the London Times said that the foreign gangsters are increasingly taking advantage of a legal loophole in the National Referal Mechanism for modern slavery, telling officers once caught that they were forced to grow the drug by higher-ups in the organisation.

Through this, the growers are able to avoid jail time and are instead transferred into publicly funded housing meant for victims of human trafficking.

An officer from the National Crime Agency (NCA) task force on Balkan criminality told the paper: “It’s really contentious whether those claims are valid or not… something that’s investigated quite frequently.”

The officer went on to say that the Albanians have also moved into the cocaine trade, with piles of cash in profit being shipped back to their native country.

Assistant Chief Constable Dave Kirby of the Derbyshire constabulary confirmed that Albanian criminals often employ the tactic of claiming to be victims of slavery, saying: “There’s no doubt that it’s a well-known tactic.”

“You’ve got to imagine that these very well-organised criminal groups will be smart enough to say, ‘All right, this is what we do then — everybody, this is what you say,’” the ACC added.

In one example, Armelind Rexha, a 22-year-old who came to the UK on a student visa, successfully convinced a British judge that he was forced into running a £672,000 pot farm, thereby escaping jail time.

Last year, some 10,613 people were identified as possible victims of human trafficking, modern slavery, or forced labour in the UK, 452 of whom were from Albania, the Home Office revealed.

The Home Office said that they have also seen an “alarming increase” in illegal migrants attempting to claim the status in order to evade deportation or being placed in migrant detention centres.

Breitbart London reported last May, that Albanians have become the number one foreign ethnic group in British prisons, with Conservative MP Philip Hollobone saying at the time: “The importation of Albanian criminals into the UK over the last ten years has been one of the scandals of the decade.”

Over the previous three years, the Albanian drug gangs have used violence, kidnappings, and firearms to take control of the marijuana trade in Britain, which was previously dominated by Vietnamese cartels.

The NCA said that Albanian strongholds in the north of England have grown “exponentially” over the past few years, as well as dominating the weed trade in London and the South East.

Armed Albanian gangs are also said to be running human trafficking operations in migrant camps across the English Channel in Calais, France, facilitating more illegal boat migration to the UK.

A government source said that the latest report justified Home Secretary Priti Patel’s push to reform the modern slavery regulations, saying: “This is proof of how dangerous criminals and gangsters are increasingly abusing our world-leading modern slavery laws.”

The Home Secretary is currently looking to introduce a new “public order” definition, which would empower the British legal system to deny NRM protections to those who pose a national security risk or have committed a serious crime.

Follow Kurt Zindulka on Twitter here @KurtZindulka

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