Aranit Arapi, a former chief police commander, has been recently appointed as an advisor to the Minister of Interior and electoral manager for the Minister’s campaign in the city of Gjirokastra where Bledi Çuci is running for MP. The appointment of Arapi raises high concerns for his previous involvements in drug trafficking and his links with the notorious gang of Emiliano Shullazi.
The connection between interior minister Çuçi and Arapi dates back from 2017 when the first was running for an MP seat in the city of Gjirokastra. At the time, Aranit Arapi was a Chief Police Commander for the city of Gjirokastra (2015 – 2017), and appeared to have been directly involved in the manipulation of the electoral process for the 2017 legislative elections in favour of SP candidates.
According to official informations available from the Albanian State Intelligence Service and Albanian State Police, Aranit Arapi, using his position, has collaborated with Andrea Çaushi (cousin of former Minister of Interior Saimir Tahiri) in cultivating narcotic drugs in the village of Kalivaç (Tepelena), while impeding local and national police forces to monitor this area or to exert direct controls.
Aranit Arapi has also collaborated with former Chief Police Commander of the city of Permer, Ermir Gërxhani (nephew of SP MP Spartak Braho) in cultivating massive areas of narcotics in the municipality of Përmet. It appears they have used as field workers and managers, individuals with a strong criminal background from Fushë Kruja linked with the gang of the renowned criminal Emiliano Shullazi, who is also known for his strong connection with former Minister Tahiri.
These later individuals, under the knowledge of the Chief police Commander for Gjirokastra, Arianit Arapi, and of the Chief police Commander for Përmet, Ermir Gërxhani, have used state reserve warehouses located in the village of Pegri (Përmet) to collect and traffic from here, all the cultivated narcotics in the area at the time.
During the 2017 electoral campaign, PM Edi Rama has organised an electoral meeting in the yard of this state warehouse.
It appears that during the 2016-2017 period, Aranit Arapi has controlled the narcotics transport corridors for from Tepelena to Vlora, on behalf of the Habilaj gang, these being also cousins of former Minister of Interior Tahiri. The Serious Crime Prosecution started an investigation of this case but were later closed due to the pressure exerted by Tahiri at the time.
The brother of the Chairman of the local SP Branch of Tepelena, Dino Selimi, appears to have served as a carrier for the narcotics transport from mountainous area of Tepelena to the harbour city of Vlora.
Sokol Feruni, the Director for the energy operator OSHE for the region of Gjirokastra for the period 2015-2017 was another collaborator for the former Gjirokastra Police Commander, Aranit Arapi. The first, in collaboration with his brother and Andi Shkurta, well known for his criminal records, managed large narcotic cultivations in the area of Fushëbardhë (Gjirokastra). Following the nomination of Bledi Çuçi as a Minister of Interior, Feruni has been appointed director of the Gjirokastra Hospital.
On 08.04.2017, based on official information from the Albanian Intelligence Service, the Internal Audit Service of the Ministry of Interior, organised an field operation in the village of Pagri (Përmet) and in the state warehouse were confiscated 11.6 tons of cannabis sativa. The investigation was later transferred to the Serious Crimes Prosecution. A penal proceeding started for the Aranit Arapi and Ermir Gërxhani, respectively as Chief Police Commanders of Gjirokastra and Përmet, as well as for four other members of this criminal group involved in the trafficking of narcotics.
Following four months of investigations, the Serious Crime Prosecutors sent to court four members of this group. The two Chief police Commanders were spared, as it appears a large bribery was handed out. Nevertheless, as part of the same investigation, the Police Deputy Commander of Gjirokaster, Fatmir Hoxha, was subject of a disciplinary proceeding and was officially expelled from the State Police body on the ground of his non-intervention in controlling the territory in terms of narcotics cultivation.
On February 2021, following the appointment of Aranit Arapi as an advisor to the Minister of Interior, Fatmir Hoxha was reintroduced to the State Police and appointed as the Police Commander for Gjirokastra.
On parallel, Arapi was appointed by Minister Çuçi, as a coordinator for his electoral campaign in Gjirokastra where he is running as a MP candidate for the Socialist Party.
According to recent field reports, Arapi has reactivated his old criminal connections and through the appointment his former associate as the new Police Commander in Gjirokastra, he has promised to support cannabis cultivation and trafficking in exchange for these criminal groups to support the Socialist campaign.