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Turkey: Narcotics Trafficking
Country Study > Chapter 5 > National Security > Crime and Punishment > Narcotics Trafficking

NARCOTICS TRAFFICKING


Turkey plays a major role in the narcotics trade, primarily as a natural route for the movement of hashish from Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iran to destinations in Europe. The disintegration of the Soviet Union has resulted in a loss of control over drug production in Central Asia and Afghanistan. Unrest in Azerbaijan and Georgia facilitates smuggling from the Caucasus area. Turkish police maintain that the PKK is heavily involved in the heroin trade. The use of air and sea routes for narcotics transshipment through Turkey has grown as the conflict in former Yugoslavia has disrupted the traditional overland routes through the Balkans.

Turkey is an important processing point for morphine base and heroin base imported into the country. Also, the Turks traditionally have grown the opium poppy for medicinal purposes. The government effectively controls the cultivation and production of opiates, paying high prices for the crop and carefully monitoring growing areas. Local drug consumption and abuse are considered minor problems, although there are some indications that heroin and cocaine use is increasing among the more affluent segments of the population.

Nationwide there are more than 1,000 narcotics law enforcement officers. The principal law enforcement agencies concerned with narcotics are the National Police and the gendarmerie. Turkish customs agencies have lacked a professional cadre of narcotics interdiction agents, but in the mid-1990s were working toward creating such a body with United States training assistance. The coast guard has also begun playing a larger role in interdiction. In spite of Turkey's efforts, it is believed that little of the heroin passing through the country is seized because of insufficient staff to screen cargoes adequately, particularly at the key transfer point of Istanbul.

There is no evidence of widespread corruption among senior officials engaged in drug law enforcement. In some cases, however, drug investigations have been compromised by corruption at lower levels of the criminal justice system, as well as within the judicial system once traffickers have been apprehended. Because Turkey has no legislation prohibiting money laundering, it is almost impossible to track inflows of drug profits. However, the Turkish government has indicated its intention to introduce laws to deal with this practice.

Data on seizures of heroin and hashish show an upward trend in the five-year period between 1989 and 1993. Hashish seizures increased from 6.9 tons in 1989 to 28.7 tons in 1993. However, a major factor was a single seizure of more than 2.7 tons of morphine base and 13.5 tons of hashish aboard a Turkish merchant ship in January 1993.

Data as of January 1995




Last Updated: January 1995


Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for Turkey was first published in 1995. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on Factba.se.

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