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Albanian police burn cannabis sativa near the town of Vlore, about 180 kilometres south of the capital Tirana in this August 2005 file photo.

STR/REUTERS

Albanian police say they have successfully cracked down on cannabis growers, destroying more than 1.7 million plants so far this year.

Altin Qato, a senior police director, on Monday said officers had destroyed three times the number of plants compared with last year. They also arrested about 150 people.

Qato said that cannabis-growers have exploited remote mountainous areas inaccessible to vehicles and parcels of land with no owner, "which has made police work very difficult."

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Albania was a major cannabis producer in Europe three years ago, when the government set fighting it as a main focus of its work. Now it says police operations against drug cultivation have cost the criminal gangs billions of euros.

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