An Albanian police officer stands guard during an anti-drug operation in Lazarat village, 230 kilometers (140 miles) south of the capital Tirana, on June 19, 2014. AFP PHOTO / STRINGER
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Albanian police declared victory Friday over drug producers who for more than 15 years had run the southern village of Lazarat as a personal fief, churning out marijuana on an industrial scale untouched by the NATO member state.Police combed gardens and, on some streets, ostentatious three-story houses of beautiful hewn stone."The unbreakable, criminal Lazarat is no more," Albania's deputy police chief, Sokol Bizhga, told Reuters. He recalled a football match organized earlier this year between the police and some Lazarat villagers as part of a confidence-building campaign.Police destroyed more than 80,000 marijuana plants and saplings and over 23 metric tons of cannabis.Some villagers, however, were visibly unnerved by the police presence.
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