'Hellbanianz' gang flaunts cash, guns and drugs on Instagram
FIREARMS: Two men pose with guns on a Hellbanianz account
ALBANIAN gangsters believed to be behind a spike in high-purity cocaine supplies that is fuelling city gang violence and the county lines epidemic are brazenly flaunting the spoils of their crimes on social media.
Members of a gang known as the Hellbanianz post images and videos of firearms, bundles of cash, expensive cars and watches on Instagram and Facebook.
The gang, who also make Albanian rap music that glorifies drugs and violence under the same name, have posted videos showing guns lain on tables with boxes of ammunition, surrounded by cash.
The gang's moto is: "We are God of the Streets”.
One video showing two hand guns was captioned: "Hellbanianz ready for violence."
Another shows a seemingly never ending line of 38 £1,000 bundles of £20 notes.
Others show wads of notes stashed around the interiors of performance sports cars.
Some wear balaclavas, while most are happy to show their face.
One gang member is pictured holding a shotgun on Facebook with the translated caption: "I hold this all the time because I have to do things every day. Yes, it’s dangerous but still the only friend.”
Jailed members of the gang, which is largely based in Barking, east London, have even posted images of themselves tucking into food in groups and apparently smoking drugs in prison.
It is illegal for prisoners in the UK to have access to mobile phones or post on social media.
However, one gang member nicknamed Pato in the posts has bragged on Instagram about having a cushy time in prison, where images show they have graffitied the Hellbanianz name all over the cell.
He is seen in various images with groups of friends and alone.
One was captioned: "The jail has become like a home and Amsterdam caff.”
In another Instagram video entitled: "Albanians behind bars live life more than outside,” the hipster-bearded inmate looks intoxicated as he puffs a joint while miming to Albanian rap.
GALLERY: Hellbanianz members illegally post to Instagram from their prison cells
The cells are kitted with TVs and filled with fresh fruit, fizzy drinks and several shoes.
In one shot three men perched on a bottom bunk prepare to tuck into party snacks.
In another a group of 14 men look carefree as they lark about for a selfie.
Many of the gang members are the children of Albanians who came to the UK as asylum seekers from the city of Burrel in Northern Albania in the late 1990s.
Many were housed on estates in Barking.
The Hellbanianz have grown up alongside London inner city youths and have mirrored their love of gangster rap and the fast life.
But the Hellbanianz are believed to have leapfrogged rival dealers by having direct supplies from Albanian mafia back home who deal directly with South American cartels and their use of violence in turf wars.
BULKED UP: Tristen Aslanni in another Instagram prison boast picture
Hellbanianz senior Tristen Aslanni, 30, was caged for 25 years in August 2016 for drugs and firearms offences after being arrested in a crashed car containing a suitcase holding 21 kilos of cocaine.
A search of his home in Crouch End, north London, found a Skorpion sub-machine gun with a silencer and more cocaine worth £6 million.
The National Crime Agency (NCA) believes Albanian gangsters ability to import huge amounts of cocaine has led to the surplus that saws the county lines phenomenon develop - where lower down dealers send coerced youngsters into counties across the country to sell crack cocaine and heroin through dedicated mobile phone numbers.
The NCA says Albanian mafia groups are getting s stronger grip on the cocaine trade across the UK, with Albanians now the third biggest nationality in UK prisons after British and Pakistanis.
AMMUNITION: Bullets laid out by phone in still from Hellbanianz video
After taking control of much of the south-east, including home-grown cannabis production, Albanians have moved to the midlands where 140 Albanians were arrested last year.
The agency believes the surplus of drugs is also fuelling deadly turf wars across London that have seen scores of knife and gun deaths this year.
Albanian charity Shpresa Programe has worked in Barking to try to prevent youths joining the gang, with limited success. A youth leader for the charity, who did not want to be named said: “Hellbaniaz are giving a bad example to young people.
BLING: The Hellbanianz are keen watch buyers as proud snap shows
"Driving flashy cars and living an expensive life earned by getting involved in crimes they are bad example of other youth people inside our community”.
A Ministry of Justice spokesman said the prison videos and images were taken last year and had been removed from Instagram at the time, with offenders dealt with, but other people must be reposting them and the prison service could do nothing about that.
He said: "A lot of investment is going into blocking mobile phones with £40 million being spent on scanners to detect them coming in. No one is allowed to graffiti their cell and will be made to cover it over. Sometimes co-defendants convicted together will serve time in the same prisons."
BACK TO BACK: Handguns and bullets shown in another post
A Met Police spokeswoman said: "We don’t comment on individual gangs, but the police use open source intelligence, including social media, as an investigative tool."
Asked if the NCA was monitoring the gang's activities via social media, a spokeswoman said: "The NCA does not routinely confirm or deny the existence of operations, projects or investigations, nor do we give details of tactics which are operationally sensitive."