JAN 10 (BROOKLYN) – Earlier today, at the federal courthouse in Brooklyn, Bajram Lajqi, a member of an international drug trafficking syndicate led by ethnic Albanians located in the United States, Canada, and Europe (the "syndicate"), was sentenced to 115 months in prison -- with credit for the 31 months he has already served -- following his June 27, 2013, guilty plea to trafficking hundreds of pounds of marijuana from Canada and using a firearm in connection with drug trafficking. As a part of the sentence, the court also imposed a term of supervised release of five years.
The sentence was announced by James J. Hunt, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), New York Division; Loretta E. Lynch, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York; and James T. Hayes, Jr., Special Agent-in-Charge, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), New York.
"To Lajqi and his syndicate, the U.S. was the ultimate destination for their deadly mix of narcotics and violence. Lajqi in particular exemplifies the violence tied to large-scale narcotics trafficking, as his drug-fueled quest for revenge led him to gun down a rival outside a Bronx restaurant without regard for the safety of the innocent bystanders around him," stated United States Attorney Lynch. "We will continue to vigorously prosecute those who would lay waste to the streets of our communities with drugs and violence."
The syndicate was comprised of several inter-related ethnic Albanian family clans (also known as "fis"), with hundreds of associated members, workers, and customers spanning three continents. In operation for more than a decade, the syndicate was responsible for organizing the importation and distribution of tens of thousands of kilograms of hydroponic marijuana from Canada and Mexico, substantial quantities of MDMA from the Netherlands and Canada, hundreds of kilograms of cocaine from Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela, and Peru, and large quantities of diverted prescription pills, such as oxycodone. The drugs were distributed in various locations in the United States, including New York, California, Georgia, Colorado, and Florida, as well as in Canada and Europe. During the course of the investigation, federal agents seized more than 1,200 pounds of marijuana, approximately $2,000,000 in suspected drug proceeds, 22 handguns, a military/police-issue assault rifle and hundreds of rounds of ammunition. To date, 49 members and associates of the syndicate have been convicted in this case.
On June 4, 2011, an escalating dispute between Bajram Lajqi and another syndicate member over the payment of a drug debt led to Lajqi stalking the victim for several hours before Lajqi pulled out a firearm and attempted to murder the victim inside a crowded Bronx restaurant-bar. The victim escaped temporarily, but Lajqi chased him into the street and repeatedly shot him, resulting in serious wounds.
Ms. Lynch expressed her grateful appreciation to the DEA's New York Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Strike Force, DEA Special Operations Division, the Department of Justice Office of International Affairs, DEA Newark Division, DEA Denver Division, DEA Miami Division, DEA Albany District Office, DEA Rome Country Office, HSI attaché in Vienna, HSI attaché in Toronto, HSI Albany Office, HSI Denver Office, HSI Newark Office, HSI Miami Office, the United States Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the New York City Police Department, the Monmouth County (New Jersey) Prosecutor's Office, the Westchester County District Attorney's Office, and the New York Attorney General's Office for their assistance. The DEA's New York Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Strike Force is comprised of agents and officers of the U. S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the New York City Police Department, Immigration and Customs Enforcement – Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the New York State Police, the U. S. Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, U.S. Secret Service, the U.S. Marshals Service, New York National Guard, Office of Foreign Assets Control and the New York Department of Taxation and Finance. The Strike Force is partially funded by the New York/New Jersey High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA), which is a federally funded crime fighting initiative.
The sentencing proceeding was held before U.S. District Judge Dora L. Irizarry.
The government's case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Steven Tiscione, Gina Parlovecchio, and Claire Kedeshian.