Albanian cocaine trafficker, sentenced to 16 years in prison escapes by jumping from wife's hospital room

An Albanian prisoner sentenced for trafficking cocaine as part of an international drug ring escaped police Wednesday while visiting his wife at a maternity hospital in Tirana, police reported.

Prisoners serving long sentences in Albania are entitled to spend very occasional nights with their spouses, the AP reports.

Frederik Durda, 40, jumped from the second floor of his wife's room. Police had started a wide operation to find him, distributing his pictures and appealing to the population for assistance, according to spokeswoman Laura Totraku.

Durda was arrested in 2001 and sentenced two years later to 16 years in prison for organizing a network of cocaine smuggling, possessing weapons illegally and falsifying documents.

Albanian authorities have stepped up efforts to crack down on organized crime, trafficking and corruption in the impoverished ex-communist country, which aspires to one day join NATO and the European Union. AM

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