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Albanian crackdown on cannabis growing nets 500,000 plants this year, 240 people arrested

  • In this photo taken on Thursday Aug. 25, 2015, a police officer carries cannabis plants  in Kurvelesh commune, 200 kilometers (125 miles) south of the Albanian capital, Tirana. Albanian police found and destroyed some 16,000 cannabis plants and arrested a suspect. So far half a million cannabis plants have been destroyed since the government set fighting drug cultivation and trafficking as a top priority. (AP Photo/Hektor Pustina)

    In this photo taken on Thursday Aug. 25, 2015, a police officer carries cannabis plants in Kurvelesh commune, 200 kilometers (125 miles) south of the Albanian capital, Tirana. Albanian police found and destroyed some 16,000 cannabis plants and arrested a suspect. So far half a million cannabis plants have been destroyed since the government set fighting drug cultivation and trafficking as a top priority. (AP Photo/Hektor Pustina)  (The Associated Press)

  • In this photo taken on Thursday Aug. 25, 2015, masked police officers burn cannabis plants in Kurvelesh commune, 200 kilometers (125 miles) south of the Albanian capital, Tirana. Albanian police found and destroyed some 16,000 cannabis plants and arrested a suspect. So far half a million cannabis plants have been destroyed since the government set fighting drug cultivation and trafficking as a top priority. (AP Photo/Hektor Pustina)

    In this photo taken on Thursday Aug. 25, 2015, masked police officers burn cannabis plants in Kurvelesh commune, 200 kilometers (125 miles) south of the Albanian capital, Tirana. Albanian police found and destroyed some 16,000 cannabis plants and arrested a suspect. So far half a million cannabis plants have been destroyed since the government set fighting drug cultivation and trafficking as a top priority. (AP Photo/Hektor Pustina)  (The Associated Press)

  • In this photo taken on Thursday Aug. 25, 2015,  a masked police officer hold cannabis plants in Kurvelesh commune, 200 kilometers (125 miles) south of the Albanian capital, Tirana. Albanian police found and destroyed some 16,000 cannabis plants and arrested a suspect. So far half a million cannabis plants have been destroyed since the government set fighting drug cultivation and trafficking as a top priority. (AP Photo/Hektor Pustina)

    In this photo taken on Thursday Aug. 25, 2015, a masked police officer hold cannabis plants in Kurvelesh commune, 200 kilometers (125 miles) south of the Albanian capital, Tirana. Albanian police found and destroyed some 16,000 cannabis plants and arrested a suspect. So far half a million cannabis plants have been destroyed since the government set fighting drug cultivation and trafficking as a top priority. (AP Photo/Hektor Pustina)  (The Associated Press)

Albanian authorities say they have confiscated about half a million cannabis plants this year, arresting 240 suspected growers and drug traffickers.

Interior Ministry spokesman Ardi Bita said Friday that fighting drug production is a "top priority" for police.

Some 7 billion euros ($7.9 billion) worth of marijuana has been seized and destroyed so far, Interior Minister Saimir Tahiri said.

On Wednesday, 100 police destroyed some 16,000 plants in Kurvelesh, south of Tirana.

Albania was long a major marijuana producer in Europe. A crackdown started last year, when police stormed the southern Lazarat village with armored personnel carriers — despite coming under automatic weapon and rocket fire by drug growers.

Prime Minister Edi Rama has set the fight against drugs as a main priority for his government, elected in 2013.