PKK leads ma­jor­ity of drug traf­fick­ing in Europe, min­is­ter says

In­te­rior Min­is­ter Sü­ley­man Soylu said yes­ter­day that the PKK ter­ror­ist group, which has been blamed for ter­ror­ist cam­paigns across Turkey and rec­og­nized as a ter­ror­ist or­ga­ni­za­tion by the EU, con­trols 80 per­cent of the drug trade in Europe

Daily Sabah (Turkey) - - Front Page -

IN­TE­RIOR Min­is­ter Sü­ley­man Soylu has said that the PKK con­trols al­most 80 per­cent of the drug trade in Europe, mak­ing around $1.5 bil­lion an­nu­ally. Speak­ing at a pro­vin­cial co­or­di­na­tion meet­ing on the fight against drug ad­dic­tion in south­ern Turkey’s Adana, Soylu said that the ter­ror­ist or­ga­ni­za­tion is sell­ing drugs and buy­ing weapons. The PKK is listed as a ter­ror­ist or­ga­ni­za­tion by Turkey, the U.S. and the Euro­pean Union. In its 30-year-long ter­ror cam­paign against Turkey, the group has been re­spon­si­ble for the deaths of some 40,000 peo­ple, in­clud­ing women and chil­dren.

fight against drug traf­fick­ing came as a ma­jor blow for the PKK fundrais­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties, of which drug traf­fick­ing is a ma­jor source.

A Turk­ish po­lice re­port re­leased on Sept. 26 said that the PKK is ac­tive in all phases of drug-traf­fick­ing, in­clud­ing pro­duc­tion, de­liv­ery, dis­tri­bu­tion and sales. The ter­ror group re­port­edly pro­duces heroin in lab­o­ra­to­ries in its camps in north­ern Iraq and sells it to Europe. In its pro­duc­tion process, the PKK ter­ror­ist or­ga­ni­za­tion forces civil­ians to pro­duce cannabis roots in eastern and south­east­ern prov­inces of Turkey and uses that money to fund ter­ror ac­tiv­i­ties.

Though its num­bers have dwin­dled, the PKK sur­vives through its drug rev­enues and have lately en­joyed free rein in north­ern Syria with mil­i­tary sup­port from the U.S. to its Syr­ian branch.

Soylu said there are 670 types of drugs in­cluded in the EU’s early warn­ing sys- tem, of which 70 per­cent have been listed within the past five years.

“In other words, [drug deal­ers] are con­tin­u­ously in­vent­ing new drugs. The pro­duc­tion of drugs is also in­creas­ing. The area of opium cul­ti­va­tion in Afghanistan was 17,000 hectares in 2002. The U.S. in­ter­vened there to bring peace and democ­racy. It was such an in­ter­ven­tion that the cul­ti­va­tion area jumped to 328,000 hectares in 2017. Opium pro­duc­tion in­creased from 4,800 tons in 2016 to 9,000 tons in 2017, an in­crease of 63 per­cent in a year.” He added that dis­tri­bu­tion channels for drugs are also de­vel­op­ing along­side chem­istry and pro­duc­tion. “Es­pe­cially the ef­fec­tive­ness of the ‘dark web’ is in­creas­ing. Out of all sales over the dark web us­ing cryp­tocur­ren­cies, two-thirds are re­lated to drugs,” he said.

On do­mes­tic anti-drug op­er­a­tions, Soylu said the num­ber of op­er­a­tions in­creased 29 per­cent in the first 10 months of 2018 com­pared to the same pe­riod last year. He added that mea­sures against drug deal­ers have been tough­ened, es­pe­cially near schools. “In all 19,466 dru­gre­lated ar­rests we car­ried out this year 16,603 were street deal­ers,” he added.

More­over, in 2017, around 70 op­er­a­tions were con­ducted against drug traf­fick­ers and 10 op­er­a­tions have been car­ried out in 2018 so far, Soylu added. The quan­tity of heroin cap­tured in the first 10 months of this year in­creased 32.5 per­cent com­pared to the same pe­riod last year, Soylu said, adding that this in­crease was 40 per­cent for co­caine, 59 per­cent for ec­stasy and 132 per­cent for syn­thetic drug pills. “If I tell you that we have cap­tured 15,821,096 cap­tagon pills from street deal­ers in the first 10 months, we can get a clear pic­ture of the pub­lic re­gard­ing the scale of our fight,” he said.

The min­is­ter said that there were 941 drug-re­lated deaths in Turkey in 2017 and 920 deaths in 2016, but this num- ber fell to 228 in the first nine months of this year. He said that the min­istry pre­dicts the year-end num­ber will be around 500-550. Soylu noted that the min­istry has de­tected 60,503 aban­doned build­ings through­out Turkey, which are used as pri­mary dis­tri­bu­tion lo­ca­tions or con­sump­tion sites for drugs. He called on may­ors, gov­er­nors and district gov­er­nors for the rapid de­struc­tion or the re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion of these struc­tures.

Since 2014, when the coun­try im­ple­mented a com­pre­hen­sive ac­tion plan to es­ca­late the war on drugs, Turkey has been fight­ing on mul­ti­ple coun­ternar­cotics fronts. It looks to help ad­dicts through bet­ter re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion and aware­ness cam­paign. It also tar­gets smug­glers and small-time deal­ers with more op­er­a­tions car­ried out by newly-formed “narco teams” that es­pe­cially fo­cus on op­er­a­tions around schools and other places where young peo­ple, the most vul­ner­a­ble tar­gets for drug ped­dlers, go.

Sol­diers de­stroy cannabis seized in op­er­a­tions against the PKK’s drug trade in the south­east­ern prov­ince of Di­yarbakır in 2016.

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