Albanians 'taking over London vice'

Albanian gangs are taking over the vice trade in Britain, with about three quarters of all prostitutes working in London saunas and brothels coming from the Balkans and former Soviet Union, a police intelligence report has found.

Albanian gangs are taking over the vice trade in Britain, with about three quarters of all prostitutes working in London saunas and brothels coming from the Balkans and former Soviet Union, a police intelligence report has found.

Albanian organised criminals are also starting to move into heroin dealing, kidnaps and street robbery in London.

The growing threat posed by gangsters from the Balkans will be highlighted at an international conference in London today, hosted by David Blunkett, the Home Secretary, and Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary.

A year-long assessment by the National Criminal Intelligence Service has concluded that the Albanians pose a growing threat, particularly in the vice industry, although in other areas of crime they are still a fledgling power.

Researchers found that about half of the prostitutes in London were from the Balkans and the former Soviet Union, and that Albanian criminals controlled about three quarters of the women who sold sex in saunas and brothels in the capital. Much of the £12m annual profit made from the Soho sex trade returned to Albania, the intelligence service said.

While the Albanian gangsters are concentrated in London, they have also made inroads into Liverpool, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Cardiff, and surprisingly Telford in Shropshire and Lancaster.

The Albanian community in Britain is small, about 30,000, but the number of those who are criminals is unknown. The police also have the problem of gangsters from other Balkan countries claiming to be Albanians in the hope of obtaining asylum.

The Albanians have managed to win control of the off-street prostitution in Soho by buying the premises and saunas that are used to sell sex. To pay for the prime-site properties and rents they have used money from Albanian as well as recycling the huge profits from selling sex in Britain.

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