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How the US ignores 'organized crime' at the highest levels of a new democracy.
Assassinations and intimidation.
A hotbed of human trafficking.

Kosovo's Mafia: A hotbed of human trafficking

Part III: Allegations of sexual slavery reach the highest levels of the Kosovo government.

Intelligence reports finger Thaci

One of the NATO intelligence reports obtained by GlobalPost features a diagram linking Thaci to two other men who are then linked to prostitution. The report, like four other Western intelligence reports GlobalPost has viewed, links Thaci and other former KLA commanders to a broad array of organized crimes.

Another NATO intelligence report, written in November 2000, claims that a close associate of Thaci is involved in sex trafficking: “Prostitution: arrival of women mostly from Bulgaria, Czech Republic and Slovakia is under [the man’s family’s] indirect control and it receives profit.”

A third intelligence report, which is dated March 10, 2004, and is marked “SECRET Rel USA KFOR and NATO” and was confirmed by a Western diplomat as being viewed by U.S. government officials, describes one of Thaci’s close associates — former KLA commander Xhavit Haliti — as believed to be “highly involved in prostitution,” among other alleged crimes, including murder.

“We just controlled the main border crossings while petrol, drugs and trafficked women continued to be poured in both through official and illegal entries,” the former NATO intelligence officer said. “We lacked resources and permission from higher authorities to act since the number one priority was peace and stability and they wouldn't allow anything to disrupt that.”

The official added: “A lot of trafficked women entered Kosovo without any hurdle. The people behind the brothels and sexual slavery were all with the government, KPC [the Kosovo Protection Corps], the PDK and the AAK. No one outside these structures had even a remote chance to run it on such a large scale.”

In spite of the longstanding allegations against Thaci, which American officials have known about for years (the NATO and other intelligence reports have been in wide circulation among American and European diplomats for years, sources tell GlobalPost, and two are even on the internet for all to see), Thaci has received strong support from the United States. He visited Vice President Joseph Biden at the White House in July and has hosted Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Kosovo.

The "FedEx" of trafficking women

Describing himself as “the Balkan version of DHL and FedEx” for trafficked women and illicit goods, the second Albanian trafficker, who gave his name as Gjon, said he had worked for and with Kosovar organized crime groups headed by former senior KLA commanders.

During the 1999 war, in which the KLA was based in Albania, its intelligence service, SHIK, was involved in sex-trafficking, Gjon said. “Groups [of trafficked women] were arriving in Durres and Fushe Kruja [in Albania], that were almost exclusively for the KLA, who were there during and after the war,” Gjon said. “SHIK escorted them. After a while some of them were shipped to Italy while others [were sent] to Kosovo. I've been to parties where they had to serve you all the way.”

Rexhep said he was a former proud KLA fighter and is now a successful businessman with legal and illegal businesses in Kosovo and other countries. In spite of his pride in fighting with the KLA during the war he acknowledged that SHIK and former KLA officials were involved in the sex-trafficking trade.

“Is the KLA involved? Are you kidding me? It’s all KLA or those who contributed [to the war] somehow,” he said. “All the big money flows are directly controlled by SHIK and without their blessing you better not start anything if you mean well to yourself and your family.”

GlobalPost made repeated attempts to interview the American ambassador to Kosovo, Christopher Dell, about U.S. relations with senior former KLA figures and allegations of criminality, but he declined to accept interview requests or respond to written questions. State Department officials also declined to respond to questions or be interviewed. Thaci also declined repeated requests for an interview.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/110322/kosovo-human-trafficking