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Albanian police report seizing at least 15 tons of marijuana

Albanian police say they have seized at least 15 metric tons (16.5 tons) of marijuana hidden in a southwestern village.

Police spokesman Gentian Mullai says that some 150 officers had found the drugs Friday in three houses in Llakatund, 150 kilometers (90 miles) southwest of the capital, Tirana. Police also seized about 700 kilograms (1,500 pounds) in a separate operation at another village in the Kavaja district, 50 kilometers (30 miles) west of Tirana.

Recent operations are part of a nationwide campaign police hold daily drug seizures.

A statement said the nine people arrested in Llakatund included two police officers and the head of the commune.

Police seized five AK-47 assault rifles, four vehicles and other equipment, chemical elements, hashish oil and tools used to process the drug in the form of chocolates and pack them.

Police said they found 270 cannabis plants at one police officer's house.

This year, authorities have made major seizures of cannabis stored in remote areas, along the coast or on speedboats to be illegally smuggled to neighboring Greece and nearby Italy. Last year, authorities destroyed 2.5 million cannabis plants and seized several tons in anti-smuggling efforts.

Authorities under Prime Minister Edi Rama's governing have strongly cracked down on local cannabis production and drug trafficking in the last four years, pledging to delete Albania from the list of cannabis-producing countries by the end of this year.