Drugs gangs from Albania have fuelled a tripling in the number of criminals from the country in British prisons.
Ministry of Justice figures reveal there were 726 offenders from the Balkan state behind bars last year – up from 267 in 2013.
Many have been convicted of murder, drug dealing, sex offences, money laundering, people smuggling and death threats.
Albanians now make up the third largest foreign group jailed in England and Wales, behind Irish and Polish criminals – at a cost of around £53million to the taxpayer.
Drugs gangs from Albania have helped triple the number of criminals from the country in British jails as the dealers from the country have a huge influence on the UK’s cocaine market
Some 321 inmates are there for drug offences, far outweighing the next highest foreign group, Jamaicans (122) and Poles (85).
The National Crime Agency (NCA) has warned that gangs of Albanian drug dealers are now ‘a significant threat’, using increasingly ruthless tactics to protect their business.
Organised crime groups from the country, which has a population of just 2.9million, now have huge influence on supplying cocaine around the UK.
Labour MP David Hanson, a member of the Commons’ justice select committee, said it was a ‘measure of success’ that Albanian gangsters were being caught and jailed.
But he added: ‘It is important that the Government finds a mechanism to ensure they serve their sentences back in Albania.
‘At a time of overcrowding in British prisons it is imperative that they are removed quickly.’
Major players include Khalad Uddin, 35, who was jailed for 16 years last June. He was described as the ‘kingpin’ in an elaborate drug dealing network that spread from his homeland to the Midlands, Bristol and London.
Before he was snared by the police, Uddin lived in a plush apartment in Oxford and had a fleet of seven cars including a Range Rover and a BMW 7 Series.
Kingpin Khalad Uddin, 35, who was jailed for 16 years last June, lived in a plush apartment in Oxford
His extravagant lifestyle led police officers to raid his home where they found about £460,000 in cash bundles, 70 pairs of designer jeans valued at up to £700 each and expensive jewellery.
Violent criminal Vital Dapi, who murdered two pensioners, used a stolen identity to claim asylum and live in Britain illegally for nearly two decades.
He was given a life sentence in March last year for the attack on grandparents Peter Stuart, 75, and his wife Sylvia, 69, in Weybread, Suffolk.
Last year, the Mail told how police were facing an Albanian crime wave with 50 thugs arrested each week amid a rise in drug-related gang warfare.
In 2016, police arrested Albanians 2,781 times – up 8 per cent on 2015. It suggests about one in 11 of the 32,000 Albanian-born residents in England and Wales were detained, although some may have been taken into custody more than once.
But thousands of Albanians allowed into the UK are suspected of adopting bogus identities from neighbouring Kosovo, claiming persecution during the regional conflict 18 years ago. Imposters are suspected to be fronting drugs and prostitution rings.
A Home Office spokesman said: ‘Foreign nationals who abuse our hospitality by committing crimes in the UK should be in no doubt of our determination to deport them.
‘We have removed more than 40,000 foreign offenders since 2010, including 6,346 in 2016-17 – the highest number on record.’