Britain to lead fight against drug runners

Jonathan Steele

Thursday March 16, 2000

Pristina - Britain is to take the lead role in helping the United Nations administration in Kosovo tackle the growing threat from organised crime, Robin Cook, the foreign secretary, announced yesterday.

Mr Cook said around 20 British police and customs officers would set up a criminal intelligence unit in Pristina. Other countries would also send police and the new unit would work closely with intelligence agencies in neighbouring Balkan states.

The move comes amid rising concern about the increase in drug-running from Turkey through Serbia, Kosovo, Montenegro and Albania to Italy and western Europe. Senior figures in the now disbanded Kosovo Liberation Army are suspected of being involved.

Although yesterday's announcement aimed to rebut criticism that the west is failing to give enough help for Kosovo's post-war return to law and order, it coincided with a setback in the divided city of Mitrovice. French troops retreated in the face of Serb demonstrators, abandoning an attempt to widen the security zone on the northern side of one of the two bridges. Teargas and stun grenades were fired, injuring at least nine Serbs.

Original article