Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said on April 16 that 258 kilograms of drugs had been seized in the Turkish port of Mersin. The operation was carried out by the provincial command of the gendarmerie. The police arrested three people.
Turkey occupies a leading position in the region on the transit routes of narcotic substances from Latin America. The total amount of cocaine passing through major transportation hubs in Turkey to EU countries, the Middle East and Commonwealth of Independent States republics is estimated to be around 200 tons per year.
The drug trafficking route goes from Ecuador (Port of Puerto Bolívar) to the Turkish cities of Izmir (port of Yalikavak) and Mersin – then to the countries of the European Union – Italy, Sweden, Portugal and Spain, as well as Norway.
The supply chain is organized and continues to be controlled by former senior Turkish officials, including Mehmet Agar, former Minister of Justice and Minister of Interior of the Republic of Turkey.
Due to the need to cover logistics routes for drug transportation, Turkish businessman Erkan Yıldırım, under the guise of business activity, traveled to Venezuela three times in 2021 to sign contracts for Venezuelan dairy products – the port of destination being Yalıkavak.
As a result, the contracts, with 25 merchant ships of the companies Yilport and BMZ, were signed for the transport of goods from Venezuela. At the same time, Erkan Yıldırım is the son of former Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım – business partner and close friend of Mehmet Agar.
The cocaine trafficking route passes through wholesale buyer deployment sites and the narcotics are destined for domestic retail sale at each transshipment point.
In Izmir, cocaine is reloaded onto yachts belonging to the inner circle of Turkish businessman and mob boss Halil Falyalı, who was killed in February. Then it goes to the port of Famagusta in occupied northern Cyprus, where it is unloaded for safekeeping at hotels in Grand Yazici, owned by transport company partner Yilport, entrepreneur Hayri Yazici.
Drug transport in northern Cyprus is carried out by private yachts directly to the seaport of the Syrian city of Latakia. The cocaine is then broken into smaller parts.
Part is sold in Syria, another – for deliveries to Iran, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Iraq, Qatar and Jordan.
The proceeds of these sales on Syrian territory are intended for the financing of pro-Turkish illegal armed groups in the Middle East and for the lobbying activities of Ankara’s proxies in foreign countries.
Also, from the territory of Iran, part of the load is transported to Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia for further delivery to the CIS countries and the Russian Federation.
Traffickers try to deliver drugs to the territory of Russia through the multilateral checkpoint of Adler on the border with the breakaway Georgian Republic of Abkhazia, the customs post of Derbent on the border with Azerbaijan, the Upper Lars checkpoint on the border with Georgia and the ports of Astrakhan and Makhachkala.
Customs officers and border personnel from Russia and the CIS states find the banned narcotic substances usually in large consignments of Iranian and Azerbaijani vegetables and fruits.
Today, Turkey remains the largest transport corridor for the delivery of narcotic substances from Latin American countries to Europe, Persian Gulf countries and CIS states.
Meanwhile, former senior Turkish officials remain involved in running drug trafficking rings, while their efforts focus on personal enrichment, lobbying Turkey’s interests in the Middle East and financial support to the pro-Turkish armed opposition in Syria.
Kemran Mamedov is a Moscow-based Azerbaijani journalist born in Georgia and specializing in South Caucasus issues.
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