Fugitive Albanian drug lord Dritan Rexhepi (42) was arrested on Friday in Beylikdüzü, near the Turkish capital Istanbul. He is suspected of large-scale cocaine transports with ramifications to the ‘Ndrangheta, the Camorra and criminal organizations in Dubai. He managed to escape detention in Ecuador in November 2022.
Rexhepi, leader of the international drug cartel Kompania Bello, was arrested on Friday in the city of Beylikdüzü, near Istanbul. He entered Turkey using a forged Colombian ID under the name Benjamín Omar Pérez García. He was spotted internationally by Interpol. According to international authorities, the Albanian led one of the most powerful groups of the Balkan Cartel, which engaged in the large-scale shipment of cocaine from South America to Europe.
Ali Yerlikaya, Turkey’s interior minister, says Dritan Rexhepi has been found guilty of murder, drug smuggling and kidnapping by the judicial authorities of Italy and Albania. The Albanian cocaine baron was wanted internationally by the international police organization Interpol after he managed to escape from a prison in Ecuador. There he had almost served his sentence for drug-related offenses. According to various sources, from the South American country he became one of the largest drug bosses in the world.
Rexhepi is registered in judicial files in at least ten countries for a number of very serious (life) crimes. Dritan Rexhepi was once arrested in the Netherlands. He escaped from a Belgian prison, among other places, and at the beginning of his career combined a study of law with contract killings. Rexhepi denied all accusations of murder to a journalist several years ago.
After Rexhepi’s arrest in Beylikdüzü, a search took place in a luxury home where the Albanian was said to be staying, during which large sums of cash, luxury watches and a firearm with associated ammunition were found.
Kompania Bello is a cartel that has been named by Italian justice as a partnership of fourteen Albanian criminal organizations involved in drug trafficking. Branches of the Kompania were active in Ecuador, the Netherlands, Belgium, Albania and Italy. Much of the cocaine the cartel trafficked came from Colombia’s Norte del Valle cartel, which may have ties to Mexico’s Sinaloa cartel. They are believed to be behind the shipment of large shipments of cocaine to European ports, including Rotterdam and Antwerp. In 2020, Italian police and Europol made dozens of arrests in an investigation into the network.
13 years in prison
Rexhepi was sentenced to 13 years in prison in Ecuador in 2015 for drug trafficking. He was held in a prison in Guayaquil and then in the prison of Latacunga, 100 kilometers from Quito. Media claim that Rexhepi had a mobile phone in the cell. The security situation in prisons in Ecuador is poor and controls on prohibited goods by the authorities are virtually non-existent.