Today’s news:

Shooting in LIC involved Albanian mobster: Feds

A 27-year-old man who is a top aide to Albania’s deputy prime minister has been accused of the 2005 drive-by shooting death of a man outside a Long Island City cafe, the U.S. attorney in Manhattan said.

Almir Rrapo, of Tirana, Albania, was arrested for his alleged role in a racketeering enterprise that engaged in murder, kidnapping, narcotics, trafficking, extortion, robbery, arson, obstruction of justice and interstate transportation of stolen goods, said Preet Bharara, the U.S. attorney for New York’s Southern District.

Rrapo, a senior administrative assistant to the deputy prime minister of Albania, was arrested by the Albanian National Police at the request of U.S. authorities July 2, but prosecutors unsealed an indictment against him Aug. 23, the U.S. attorney said.

The defendant is alleged to have taken part in the fatal drive-by shooting of Erion Shehu outside a Long Island City cafe in July 2005 during a turf battle over marijuana sales, the U.S. attorney said.

Another man, Florian Veshi, 26, of Brooklyn, was also arrested on similar charges this week.

A total of 16 men have been arrested for their alleged roles in the marijuana-dealing operation, which prosecutors said was run by Staten Island brothers Bruno and Saimir Krasniqi. The Krasniqi brothers are also accused of taking part in Shehu’s shooting.

Rrapo, who faces a possible death sentence if convicted of Shehu’s murder, and the Krasniqi brothers are also alleged to have kidnapped a rival drug dealer at gunpoint one month before the 2005 shooting, pistol whipped him and placed a gun’s muzzle in his mouth while threatening to kill him if he did not reveal the locations of his ring’s other members, Bharara said.

The group, known as the Krasniqi Organization, operated in New York, Connecticut and Michigan.

Among the men busted are Queens residents Skender Cakoni, 44; Jnazih Nasser, 35; and Gentian Nikolli, 33. The other alleged members of the drug ring include residents of the Bronx; Brooklyn; Staten Island; Branford, Conn.; Detroit; and Toronto.

The Krasniqi brothers have also been accused of fatally shooting Erenick Grezda twice in the head at point-blank range while driving on the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway Jan. 14, 2006, the U.S. attorney said.

“This case illustrates the nexus between marijuana trafficking and deadly violence with rivals reverting to kidnapping and intimidation to control the market,” said Raymond Kelly, commissioner of the city Police Department.

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at nduke@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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