A fugitive drug lord, exposed in the Mail’s acclaimed documentary ‘Albanian Narcos’ for flooding Britain with cocaine, has been arrested by armed police in Turkey.
Dritan Rexhepi, in his early 40s, was detained in a dramatic operation after his details were distributed via an Interpol red notice for drug trafficking and other crimes including murder.
The international crime lord, who was previously on the Scotland Yard Most Wanted list due to his close ties to England, is believed to have been the leader of an international drug cartel called Kompanio Bello, which transports drugs from South America to Europe.
The Interpol indictment was issued by Italian and Albanian judicial authorities for crimes including “intentional murder, drugs, kidnapping/deprivation of liberty, falsification of travel documents, weapons and ammunition.”
Officials in Turkey said the man nicknamed “King of Cocaine” entered the country through Istanbul airport with a Colombian passport registered in the name of “Benjamin Omar Perez Garcia.”
Dritan Rexhepi, the leader of the Kompanio Bello drug cartel, who was wanted on a red notice, was captured during a drug raid in Istanbul, Turkey’s interior minister said on Friday.
“Dritan Rexhepi, leader of the drug cartel ‘Kompanio Bello’, which exports drugs from South America to Europe, was arrested,” Turkish Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya said on X.
Armed police stood guard as Rexhepi was brought from his hideout in Istanbul, Turkey
A triumphant police video of his arrest showed anti-narcotics officers in bulletproof vests taking cash, jewelry and watches from a safe in his hideout in a luxury apartment building in Istanbul. A revolver, believed to have belonged to the convicted murderer, was also recovered.
As evidenced by the Mail’s bombshell documentary Albanese Narcos: Bullets, Bloodshed and Britain on Mail+ and Mail Online and the accompanying two-part investigation published earlier this year, Rexhepi’s whereabouts had been a mystery since his controversial early release from prison in Ecuador two years ago.
While behind bars in the South American country, he continued to mastermind the supply of large quantities of cocaine to Britain – where he was a prime target of the National Crime Agency.
In the Mail’s multimedia investigation in March, we revealed how Albanian narcotics gangs meant that cocaine can now be obtained faster than a pizza delivery person in Britain. In Ecuador, a ruthless local gangster working for a gang leader known as ‘Carlos the Devil’ told us about the terrifying bloodshed behind the operation to export cocaine to Britain.
The man, whom we called Junior, seemed too scared to answer questions about Rexhepi. Asked about Albanian gangsters linked to a series of drug-related mafia killings in Ecuador, he said: “If you fail, they kill.”
A prosecutor who survived five murder plots in Ecuador said of the Albanian drug lords there: “They are the masterminds and hire the hitmen.”
Under highly suspicious circumstances, Rexhepi was released early from a 13-year prison sentence for drug trafficking in Ecuador. His prison sentence did not put an end to his criminal activities.
From his prison cell in the capital Quito, he is said to have used an encrypted mobile phone to coordinate a ‘transnational crime federation’ of Albanian drug traffickers known as Kompania Bello. A major destination for his illicit cargo was Britain, with its £2 billion cocaine market.
Rexhepi is also alleged to have ordered the murder of an innocent man after a rival Albanian drugs gang allegedly stole millions of pounds worth of cocaine which he smuggled into Portsmouth on a container ship full of bananas.
The victim’s only ‘crime’ – he was kidnapped and murdered in Albania – was that he was the brother of someone who allegedly defrauded Rexhepi over the drug shipment.
Video showed a number of vehicles heading to the shelter in Istanbul, Turkey
Officials said the man nicknamed “King of Cocaine” entered Turkey through Istanbul airport with a Colombian passport registered in the name of “Benjamin Omar Perez Garcia.”
Dramatic images showed the man being held by armed Turkish police
Dritan Rexhepi, in his early 40s, was detained in a dramatic operation after his details were distributed via an Interpol red notice for drug trafficking and other crimes including murder
Just months after his release from prison, the criminal mastermind disappeared from the radar in Ecuador, raising alarm bells in the alleged narco-state, Britain, elsewhere in Western Europe and Albania.
In Albania he was sentenced to 25 years in prison in absentia for two murders (including that of a police officer) and is suspected of other murders. He is also wanted in Italy and Belgium, and has multiple identities.
He was on Scotland Yard’s Most Wanted List of foreign criminals a decade ago when he was thought to be hiding in Britain and has links to London, Bedfordshire and Northamptonshire.
According to Europol, Rexhepi’s syndicate stood out from others in the way it controlled the entire supply chain – from the purchase of cocaine for export, through wholesale distribution to sale on the streets of cities like Brighton, as we revealed in our publication. documentary and part one of the Mail investigation.
Ecuadorian law enforcement officials, who share intelligence with the NCA, admitted they were unsure of the location of the King of Cocaine.
Officially, he was supposed to sign a register twice a month after his release as a condition of his freedom, but multiple sources said they suspected someone else was doing this on his behalf.
Footage showed Turkish authorities standing outside the building where they arrested Rexhepi
Narcotics teams search suspect’s belongings during a raid in Istanbul, Turkey
Rexhepi’s whereabouts have been a mystery since his controversial early release from prison in Ecuador two years ago. In the photo: Narcotics teams search the hideout
Police video of his arrest showed anti-narcotics officers in bulletproof vests taking money, jewelry and watches from a safe in his hideout in a luxury apartment building in Istanbul.
In the photo: a safe in the shelter with a gun and ammunition
Watches and jewelry were among the belongings recovered during the raid
Video showed police searching a large safe, revealing its expensive contents
According to a head of the anti-narcotics department, investigations were underway into Rexhepi’s partner who had made trips to the Colombian capital Bogota.
“We have no doubt that he is carrying out or returning to illegal activities through his partner,” he told the Mail, who spent a month in Ecuador investigating Albanian Narcos.
The trail seemed to be cold until Rexhepi showed up in Turkey in a triumph for global law enforcement.