700 kg of marijuana seized in eastern Turkey

The Interior Ministry announced on Monday that 700 kilograms (1,543.24 pounds) of powdered marijuana and 511 grams of methamphetamine were confiscated in a counternarcotics operation in eastern Turkey.

Minister Süleyman Soylu announced the operation via his social media account, noting that their fight against drug smuggling was continuing “with resolve.” The operation took place in a rural area of Başkale district of Van province which borders Iran. Gendarmerie troops, acting upon intelligence, discovered the drugs in 21 sacks. It was unclear whether any suspects were detained in connection with the drugs.

Turkey is a transit route for drug smugglers operating between Asia and Europe. Drugs from Asia are smuggled into Europe via Turkey while synthetic drugs produced in Europe are being smuggled into the Middle East. The country, however, stepped up its efforts to stamp out drug trafficking from which terrorist groups and international gangs profit.

Turkey seized 0.7 tons of amphetamine in 2020, including 2.9 million Captagon pills, the latest year with available data, according to the European Union’s European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA). Across the continent, 21.2 tons of amphetamine were seized in 2020. Also in 2020, Turkey seized 4.1 tons of methamphetamine, a significant number compared to just 1 ton seized in 2019, according to the EMCDDA report. Methamphetamine, however, remained a major problem in terms of efforts to curb drug use, according to the report, which says the problem is concentrated in Czechia, Germany, Slovakia and Turkey, “which together account for 93% of the 9,400 methamphetamine clients reported in 2020, 4,200 of whom were first-time clients.” Turkey also led the efforts in the seizure of methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) in Europe. It seized a record 11.1 million MDMA tablets in 2020, compared to 8.7 million in 2019, far more than the MDMA tablets and powder seized in EU countries, which amounted to a total of 1 ton and 4.7 million tablets.

In heroin seizures, the country also led with seizures totaling 13.4 tons in 2020, compared to 5.1 tons in EU member states, although the heroin seizure of the country was lower than the 20 tons captured in 2019. “Indicators of heroin use and reductions in the quantity of heroin seized by Turkey and Bulgaria in 2020 together with large seizures reported in other transit countries are suggestive that COVID-19 transport restrictions may have disrupted the trafficking of this drug along the Balkan route into the European Union. This could also help explain the shortages of heroin in 2020 reported by some countries,” the report says.


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