Budget-conscious European junkies looking for the biggest bang for their drug buck might want to visit Kosovo, if a report from Balkan Insight is accurate. According to the report, Kosovo has the lowest street prices for illicit drugs in the entire Balkan region.
Kosovo is the former Serbian province largely populated by ethnic Albanians who broke away from Serbia in 1999. It is currently a UN-administered territory still occupied by several thousand US and NATO troops.
According to the US State Department's 2008 report on international drug trafficking: "Kosovo is a transit point for Afghan heroin moving to Western Europe by way of Turkey. Narcotics traffickers capitalize on weak border control in Kosovo. The Kosovo Border Police is a young service, lacks basic equipment, and only has a mandate to patrol the "Green Border" (area where there are no official, manned borders or administrative boundary line gates) from two to three kilometers beyond the actual border and administrative boundary lines. NATO's Kosovo Force (KFOR) has roving teams that patrol the green border up to the actual border and administrative boundary lines, but traffickers easily take advantage of numerous passable roads leading into Kosovo that lack border or administrative boundary line gates. Moreover, narcotics interdiction is not part of KFOR's mandate; they seize narcotics they happen to encounter while performing their duties, but they do not actively investigate narcotics trafficking. Kosovo Border Police and Customs agents are susceptible to corruption. Kosovo officials are attempting to tackle the problem, but United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) officials believe some officers allow narcotics shipments."
Albania and Kosovo are also the home of well-organized Albanian drug trafficking organizations that helped fund the Kosovo independence movement. Ironically, the NATO blockade of Serbia during the Kosovo crisis accelerated the growth of the Eastern European organized crime groups that are now smuggling Afghan heroin into Europe. By blockading Serbia, the center of the East European economy, NATO sanctions created the conditions for a rapid expansion of clandestine activities.
Now, a gram of heroin in Kosovo goes for as little as 10 Euros, compared to 15 to 25 Euros in Bosnia & Herzegovina, 25 to 40 Euros in Macedonia, and at least 25 Euros in Albania and Serbia. You can get a gram of cocaine in Kosovo for 50 Euros, while that same gram would cost 60 Euros in Macedonia and Bosnia and 70 Euros in Albania and Serbia. Prices for marijuana, around 5 to 10 Euros a gram, however, are similar throughout the region.
Balkans prices are significantly lower than in Western Europe, where the UN Office on Drugs and Crime put the average price per gram of heroin in 2006 at 67 Euros, or in the US, where the UN had a gram of heroin going for $170. That 50-Euro gram of cocaine you bought in Kosovo would cost you 85 Euros on average in the rest of Europe.
Time to party in Pristina?