Turkish Report on Drugs and Organized Crime
2. OVERVIEW ON SUBSTANCES
2.1. Opium and Opiates
There is an increase in the amount of opium seized in the last two years in Turkey (Graphic-1). The opium seizures in Turkey were examined. It was found out that opium entered into Turkey from Iran and shipped abroad particularly to Canada and the USA through cargo services or inside containers concealed in legitimate goods. Moreover it was confirmed that Iranian citizens brought opium to Turkey for their own use. In October 2007 160 kg of opium were seized in Izmir and same year in November 100 kg of opium were seized again in izmir. It was revealed that the opium seized were brought to Turkey from Iran and planned to be shipped to Canada and the USA in small quantities.
Graphic-1 Distribution of opium seized over the years
In 2007 the number of the operations targeting opium was increased 27,5%. However the suspects apprehended as a result of such operations were decreased 4,9%, when compared to the year 2006 (Graphic-2).
Graphic-2 Distribution of opium operations and suspects apprehended in these operations over the years
The amount of opium seized in Turkey generally shows an increase in October in line with the harvesting season of poppy plants cultivated in Southwest Asia (Graphic -3).
Graphic-3 Distribution of opium seizures over the months
As explained above, opium seized in Izmir was planned to be shipped abroad through cargo services in batches. Similarly in istanbul 32 cargo operations were made and in 24 out of 32 operations opium was seized. The amount seized in the cargo operations corresponded to 70,7% of the opium seized in istanbul.
2.1.2. Morphine Base
Recently the amount of morphine base seized in Turkey showed significant decline (Graphic-4). The illicit opium produced in Afghanistan is processed into heroin in Afghanistan and its neighbors. That is why the amount of morphine base seized in Turkey decreased. As a consequence the opium and opiates enter into Turkey in processed form, mainly in the form of heroin.
There is no significant difference in the number of the operations conducted in the last five years. However the number of the suspects apprehended showed fluctuations (Graphic-5).
93,1% of the morphine base seizures were made in Van and Hakkari, having a border line with Iran. This is a significant indication that morphine base is trafficked into Turkey from Iran and that Turkey applies a successful strategy for the seizure of opium and opiates just before such drugs are brought to Turkey.
In the last five years the amount of heroin seized in Turkey showed a steady increase (Graphic-6). It is not right to conclude that the increase in the amount of heroin seized in Turkey depends on only the increase in the production of illicit opium in Afghanistan. In the year 2005 the amount of opium produced in Afghanistan was declined 2,4% when compared to the year 2004. However the amount of heroin seized in Turkey in 2005 showed an increase in the ratio of 2,2% when compared to 2004.
The Afghani origin heroin passes over nearly 20 countries including Turkey from the starting point of the Balkan Route to the destination point. The amount of heroin seized by Turkey is much more than the total amount seized by the rest of the countries on this route. This is an indication of determination and strong operational capacity of Turkey in the fight against illicit drug trafficking.
Furthermore when the amount of heroin seized by all the Member States of the EU is compared to the amount seized only by Turkey, the success of Turkey will be clearly seen. (Graphic -7)
*Seizures made by the UK is not included in the EU seizures of 2006 since the UK did not provide the relevant information.
Every operation targeting heroin trafficking in Turkey results in the seizure of 10 kg and apprehension of 3 suspects averagely. The heroin seized is around 60% pure. This information demonstrates the fact that Turkey successfully fights against the international illicit drug trafficking organizations.
The amount of heroin seized in Turkey generally shows an increase in September and October and a decrease in July and August, as is the case in opium seizures (Graphic-9).
As usual the largest amounts of heroin were seized in Istanbul in 2007 (Table-3). '77,8% of the total heroin seized in Turkey were seized as a result of the operations conducted in Istanbul, Edirne, Van and Hakkari. This is an indication that heroin is trafficked into Turkey from the border with Iran and trafficked out Turkey from Istanbul and Edirne. This fact demonstrates that Turkey is a transit country in heroin trafficking.
There was no single heroin seizure in Bitlis and Malatya before 2006. The provinces in question that are located on the route initiated risk analysis studies in the last two years. And 366 kg of heroin were seized accordingly.
UNODC World Drug Report 2007 stated that Balkan Route partially lost ground as of 2-005 and that Northern Black Sea Route was started to be used as an alternative. The effective and successful fight of Turkey forced the illicit drug traffickers to shift to the Northern Black Sea Route.
Our researches also showed that heroin is increasingly shipped to the Central and Western European countries over the route starting from Iran, Caspian Sea, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Russia and over Ukraine. As a consequence of the cooperation with Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Romania and as a result of the intelligence provided by Turkey to these countries 6 different illicit drugs shipments were seized in the last year. 4 deliveries out of 6 were stopped in Ukraine and 506 kg of heroin were seized. One was stopped in Azerbaijan and 143 kg of heroin were seized. And finally a truck reached to Romania over Iran and Ukraine was searched and 150 kg of heroin were seized. The abovementioned seizures show that Turkey has a strong intelligence and operation capacity not only in Turkey but also abroad.
2.2. Cocaine and Derivatives
Cocaine and derivatives originating from South America is trafficked into Turkey from a long distance for two reasons. First of all Turkey is used as a transit country for the shipment of illicit drugs to Europe and Middle East for consumption. Secondly, such illicit drugs are trafficked into Turkey to meet the local cocaine demand, despite of its low level.
As of the year 2003 the amount of cocaine seized in Turkey was increased (Graphic -10). Turkey intervenes and seizes cocaine particularly just before they are brought into Turkey. In this respect 67,5% of the cocaine seized in 2007 were seized at the airports. Cocaine trafficking into Turkey for the local demand was belted significantly.
There is a steady increase in the number of the operations and the number of the suspects every year (Graphic-11). Although it is stated in the World Drug Report 2007 that there is a horizontal progress in terms of cocaine supply and demand, there is a tendency of increase in Turkey every year. However thanks to the geographical location of Turkey, Turkey suffers from little or no cocaine trafficking and use problem, when compared to the EU Member States.
The amount of cocaine seized in Turkey is over the average in July, August and September (Graphic-12). 67,5% of the cocaine seized in 2007, were seized at the airports. July, August and September are the summer months preferred by tourists for vacation. Given this fact the number of the passengers using airlines is peaked in the abovementioned months. It is estimated that the illicit drug traffickers try to abuse the high traffic at the airports and to minimize the risk of apprehension.
99,5% of the total amount of cocaine seized in Turkey in 2007, were seized in 10 provinces. Similarly in 14 different provinces cocaine were seized in 2005. This number was 22 in 2006 and 23 in 2007. All these data show that the use of this illicit drug is not common in Turkey, but is getting widespread and that the consumption is intensified in some specific provinces. It is a fact that the cocaine traffickers earn huge amount of profit. Therefore they try to spread the use of cocaine. The largest amounts of cocaine were seized in Istanbul in 2007 as in every year. Istanbul Atattirk Airport is the most important entry point for cocaine trafficking. And die personnel working in Istanbul Atattirk Airport spent dedicated efforts. Therefore the largest amounts of cocaine were seized in Istanbul.
Istanbul ranks the first in the importation, distribution and consumption of cocaine in Turkey (Table-4). In 2007, 40 international cocaine operations were carried out in Istanbul and 65 foreign nationals were apprehended. It is striking that 35 out of 65 foreign nationals are from African countries. This is an indication that African people play an important role in the illicit drug trafficking, particularly cocaine trafficking in Turkey. Neither Turkey has direct contact with the African law enforcement agencies, nor do the African countries have diplomatic missions in Turkey. Moreover the African people illegally enter into Turkey do not have even identity cards. All the above mentioned factors complicate Turkey's fight against the African people trafficking illicit drugs to Turkey.
2.3. Cannabis and Derivatives
Hashish by far is the most produced and consumed illicit drug in Turkey. And accordingly the highest number of operations target hashish trafficking and the hashish is seized utmost in Turkey.
Hashish in powder form is commonly consumed in Europe. The suppliers cannot meet the demand in Europe; therefore North African countries meet this demand. Furthermore Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan produce illicit hashish in powder form to meet their local demand. The majority of hashish produced in this region is consumed in this region. Very few amount of powder hashish is trafficked into Turkey from this region.
Hashish seized in Turkey is unprocessed hashish, with very few exceptions. This is an indication that unprocessed hashish is consumed in Turkey, on the contrary to the high supply and demand for powder hashish in the region.
The amount of hashish seized in Turkey is increased each and every year (Graphic-13). Turkey made a structural amendment in 2006 to take concrete steps to fight against illicit drug trafficking more effectively. As of 2006 Narcotic Units are specialized on illicit drugs. Significant progress is achieved as a result of this amendment. Turkey emphasized planned/projected and long term operations against criminal organization trafficking illicit drugs, particularly cocaine and hashish. Accordingly hashish seizures were significantly increased in the year 2007. The hashish seizures were increased 37,3% in 2007 when compared to 2006.
Parallel to the increase in the hashish seizures every year, the number of the operations targeting the criminal organizations trafficking hashish and the number of the suspects apprehended are also increased every year (Graphic-14).
The amount of hashish seized in 2007 peaked in September in line with the harvesting season of cannabis, as it was in the past. (Graphic -15)
The largest amount of hashish was seized in Diyarbakir, Istanbul and Van in 2007 as it was in 2006 (Table-5). Hashish seized in western provinces of Turkey like Istanbul and Izmir was brought to these provinces from the eastern and south eastern provinces of Turkey by illicit drug trafficking organizations via different modus operandi.
It was revealed that passenger coaches providing transportation services between the eastern-south eastern provinces and western provinces of Turkey are misused by the traffickers. Particularly passenger coaches providing transportation services between Diyarbakir and western provinces of Turkey are abused by the traffickers. Through couriers the traffickers traffic illicit drugs in the luggage booth of the coaches. Hundred kilos of hashish packed in sacks are trafficked to the western provinces.
As a result of the investigations on hashish seizures it was also revealed that PKK terrorist organization made profit from hashish trafficking. In September 2007, 947 kg of hashish were seized in the operation carried out in Van/Ba§kale. It was found out that the hashish in question belonged to a PKK terrorist and was produced to provide financial support to the terrorist organization.
2.4. Synthetic Drugs
Captagon, being a member of the Amphetamine family, is trafficked into Turkey from eastern European countries; and shipped to Middle East and Arabic countries transiting Turkey. Captagon is not widely used in Turkey.
Turkey makes close cooperation with the Narcotic Units of Bulgaria and Saudi Arabia to dismantle the criminal organizations trafficking Captagon. This cooperation has its echo both in the amount of captagon seized in Turkey and the number of operations and dismantled organizations (Graphic-16).
4.250.000 captagon tablets were seized and 5 suspects were apprehended in the operation carried out jointly with Saudi Arabia in 2007 in Turkey. 2.680.000 captagon tablets were seized and 8 suspects were apprehended in the operation carried out in Saudi Arabia. Significant illicit drug trafficking organizations active in the international arena were dismantled.
Similarly, in 2007 in two separate operations conducted in Turkey jointly with the law enforcement agencies of Bulgaria, 468.000 captagon tablets were seized and 17 suspects were apprehended.
Since 2004 considerable amounts of amphetamines were seized in Turkey. In the last three years the amphetamine seizures showed an increasing tendency (Graphic-17). As a result of the intelligence work and technical surveillance about the amphetamine seizures, it was revealed that the seized amphetamines were destined to clandestine laboratories producing captagon in Syria.
Though the number of operations targeting criminal organizations trafficking captagon was decreased in 2007, the amount of captagon seized in these operations was increased (Graphic-18)
* It was stated in our 2006 Report that 10.653.764 captagon tablets were seized in 2006. This year in this report it is stated that 4.538.236 captagon tablets were seized in 2006 130 kg of amphetamines seized in 2006 were not transformed into captagon tablets — in numerical terms. That is why there are two different figures given for the captagon tablets seized in 2006.
93,4% of captagon seized in 2007, were seized in Hatay, Sirnak, Gaziantep and Kilis, having borderline with Syria. 6,2% of the seizures were made in istanbul. istanbul was the first stop before the East Europe origin Captagon tablets were destined to Middle East and Arabic countries (Table-6).
As a result of the operations and investigations conducted against the illicit drug trafficking organizations by Turkey, the below given facts were revealed;
• The criminal organizations ship illicit drugs in small quantities, rather than bulk quantities so as to minimize the risk of being captured.
• The criminal organizations do not ship illicit drugs regularly. They move prudently and in secrecy and prefer the most suitable time for the delivery.
• The criminal organizations ship illicit drugs in the long term and minimize the risks.
• The criminal organizations prefer to use passenger cars bearing foreign country license plates while trafficking captagon and amphetamines into Turkey.
• The criminal organizations use truck and lorry type vehicles transporting legitimate goods, while trafficking illicit drugs to Syria and Arabic countries.
• The criminal organizations located in Balkan countries and Eastern European countries, particularly Bulgaria and Serbia are engaged in captagon and amphetamine trafficking.
• Captagon, amphetamines and processed heroin are shipped to Bulgaria and stored in Bulgaria. Then in small quantities such illicit drugs are shipped to other Balkan countries and European countries through couriers.
Ecstasy produced in Western European countries particularly the Netherlands and Belgium is trafficked into Turkey by the criminal organizations over the reverse direction to the Balkan Route. Until the 2007 the amount of ecstasy seized in Turkey showed an increasing tr-end, however the amount seized in 2007 was decreased 30,9% when compared to 2006.
The reason behind this decrease can be explained as follows: Ecstasy is trafficked into Turkey from Western European countries. Western European countries do not intensively cooperate in the fight against synthetic drug trafficking, unlike they do cooperate in the fight against heroin trafficking. There is a partial decrease in ecstasy use thanks to the public awareness raising campaigns.
In 2007 the number of the operations against criminal organizations trafficking ecstasy was increased, however the total amount of ecstasy seized was deceased. As per the strategic decision taken in Turkey, 2007 operations targeted the local illicit drug traffickers selling small amounts of drugs to individual users. That is why the total amount of ecstasy seized was decreased.
Every month variant amounts of ecstasy are seized in Turkey (Graphic-22). The large amounts of ecstasy seizures made in January, February, May and September are the outcomes of the successful operations carried out by the Narcotics Units against intemational criminal organizations trafficking ecstasy.
85,8% of the total ecstasy seizures were made in Istanbul in 2007. The criminal organizations trafficking ecstasy, use Istanbul as a center for distribution and storage for ecstasy, as it is the case for the other illicit drugs (Table-7).
The criminal organizations trafficking ecstasy have the following characteristics;
• These criminal networks have contacts with the Netherlands and the Turkish citizens living in the Netherlands and engaged in illicit drug trafficking.
• The criminal organizations provide ecstasy from these networks and coordinate the shipment thereof.
• The criminal network located in Turkey generally coordinates the transportation of ecstasy. They generally arrange the truck drivers transporting heavy and legitimate goods and bring ecstasy to Turkey as cached in the legitimate goods.
• The criminal organizations do not pay money for ecstasy. They rather prefer to barter with heroin shipped with the same method. By this way this is a win-win situation for both sides. Therefore it can be said that the criminal networks trafficking ecstasy also trafficks in heroin.
2.5. Chemical Substances
In 2007 the amount of acetic anhydride seized in Turkey was considerably increased (Graphic-23). This considerable increase caused by an international controlled delivery operation under the coordination of SECI. It was determined that a criminal organization planned to ship acetic anhydride from Slovenia to Turkey. A controlled delivery operation was planned under the coordination of SECI and 12960 It of acetic anhydride were seized.
The investigation and inquiry made, showed no indication that the acetic anhydride in question would be used by any clandestine laboratory in Turkey. However the analysis and the technical surveillance showed that the criminal organization planned to transfer the substance in question to a clandestine laboratory active in a country located in the east of Turkey. Moreover Turkey still cooperates with the relevant countries to expose and dismantle the criminal organization behind the scene that organized the delivery of the acetic anhydride in question.
The precursor chemicals and controlled chemical substances are not diverted in Turkey. Turkey is indirectly affected by the trafficking in precursor chemicals and controlled chemical substances trafficked in the eastern and western neighboring countries.
The Narcotic Units in Turkey carry out analytical studies on controlled chemical substances and precursor chemicals including the contacts in the source and destination countries. Turkey is working in cooperation with the law enforcement agencies of relevant countries to identify where and how the chemicals in question be used. It is believed that decisive efforts spent in this direction may lead to expose the clandestine laboratories.
The criminal organizations trafficking illicit drugs, use various methods and alternative routes to ship the chemical substances to the clandestine laboratories. In the event that the methods and routes are deciphered by the law enforcement agencies, the traffickers develop new methods and routes. It is revealed that illicit drug trafficking organizations prefer Russian origin acetic anhydride which is used to produce heroin and which is delivered to Afghanistan and neighboring countries. The legitimate acetic anhydride transported to Armenia is diverted in Armenia and shiped to heroin laboratories in Iran and other countries by the traffickers. And similarly the traffickers are paid with heroin and they deliver heroin to the European countries over the Northern Black Sea Route.