1998 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report
Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs
United States Department of State
February 26, 1999
There is no appreciable cultivation of illicit narcotics in Turkey,
although licit opium poppies are grown. Consumption of narcotics within
Turkey remains relatively low. Turkey's geographical position makes it a
major transit route for Southwest Asian opiates moving to Europe, and for
some synthetic drugs to the Middle East. Turkish anti-narcotics efforts are
concentrated on stemming transit traffic, and on eradicating illicit
laboratories within Turkey which process smuggled morphine base into
heroin. There is no conclusive evidence that illicit narcotics produced in
Turkey or transiting Turkey enter the United States in significant
Turkey is a member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), and is
investigating possible money laundering cases. The 1988 UN Drug Convention
was signed by Turkey in 1988, and formally ratified in 1996.
II. Status of Country
Opium poppy cultivation in Turkey is limited to carefully monitored and
controlled production for the licit pharmaceutical opiate market, as
recognized by the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) and the
United States Government (USG). There is no indication of diversion to
illicit channels. Farming inefficiencies and relatively poor alkaloid
content make poppy crops for opiates only marginally commercial, although
poppy seeds are a valuable food crop. The U.S. Department of Agriculture
(USDA) is working with the Turkish authorities to improve the alkaloid
content of the poppies. Other illicit cultivation of narcotic plants,
primarily marijuana, is minor and has no significant effect on the United
The amount of heroin and other illicit opiates transiting Turkey is unknown,
although the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) estimates that it remains
steady at between four and six tons of heroin to Europe each month. As much
as 75 percent of the heroin seized in Europe has a "Turkish Connection,"
having either transited Turkey, been processed there, or been seized in
connection with Turkish criminal syndicates. We continue to monitor
this route for indications that heroin transiting Turkey affects
the United States. The discoveries of processing labs and seizures
of illicit precursor chemicals such as acetic anhydride indicate continuing
heroin refining in Turkey. Turkish anti-narcotics forces are aggressive in
interdicting drug traffic and closing down illicit laboratories within
Turkey has continued to move forward in its anti-money-laundering campaign.
The Turkish Financial Crimes Investigative Board (FCIB), with the
assistance of the U.S. Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FINCEN), is
actively investigating more than 80 possible money-laundering cases. Three
of the cases have been sent to the prosecutor's office for further action.
So far, the cases have centered primarily on allegations of corruption
rather than money generated from narcotics trade. None of the cases sent to
the Turkish prosecutor's office involved narcotics.
III. Country Actions Against Drugs in 1998
Policy Initiatives. Turkey continues to emphasize anti-money laundering
efforts. The Government of Turkey tried to obtain a better estimate on the
informal economy by declaring a "financial clearance day" on September 30,
1998. All Turks with undeclared monetary assets were asked to put these
assets in a Turkish bank for that one day. A total of $4.3 billion was
recorded. Two major pieces of legislation are before Parliament, but not
expected to pass until the formation of the new government: an organized
crime bill which would better define and more severely punish
organized crime, and a banking reform bill which would enforce
stricter auditing controls on banks.
Accomplishments. Turkey's anti-money laundering efforts received a
satisfactory evaluation from FATF in October 1998. In the same month,
Turkey signed a multilateral agreement within the context of the Southeast
European Cooperation Initiative (SECI) with Romania and Bulgaria for
cooperation on anti-terrorism, organized crime, narcotics smuggling, and
Law Enforcement Efforts. As of mid-December 1998, Turkish law enforcement
agencies, including the Turkish National Police, the Jandarma (rural
police), Customs, and Coast Guard, had seized over three tons of heroin and
five tons of hashish. There were 4,577 drug-related arrests. Turkish
officials continue to maintain close relationships with anti-narcotic
counterparts in the United States and many European countries, and hold
monthly meetings with those countries' drug liaison officers.
Corruption. Allegations of corruption continue to dominate news headlines.
The arrest of alleged Turkish mafia boss Alaaddin Cakici in France in 1998
re-opened rumors of criminal gang corruption of major political figures in
such areas as preferential treatment in bidding for privatized state
entities. On November 25, State Minister Gunes Taner was censured for his
apparent involvement in corruption and was stripped of his cabinet seat.
Allegations of corruption were also leveled against Prime Minister Yilmaz,
whose government lost a vote of confidence the same day. To date, the
corruption allegations have not involved narcotics trafficking.
Agreements and Treaties. The United States and Turkey have long-standing
bilateral treaties covering extradition and mutual legal assistance in
criminal matters, as well as a narcotics assistance protocol. The USG has
concluded a Customs Mutual Assistance Agreement (CMAA) with the Government
of Turkey. In addition, Turkey is a party to the World Customs
Organization's International Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance
for the Prevention, Investigation, and Repression of Customs Offenses,
Annex X on Assistance in Narcotics Cases. Turkey is a party to the 1988 UN
Drug Convention, and is a member of FATF.
Cultivation and Production. Opium poppies are grown by licensed farmers for
pharmaceutical and food products. Licit opium poppy cultivation is strictly
controlled by the Turkish Grain Board (TMO), with no apparent diversion
into illicit channels. Culinary poppy seed brings farmers more profit than
the sale of the low-alkaloid poppy straw. The U.S. Department of
Agriculture (USDA) is working with the Turkish authorities to improve the
alkaloid content of the poppies. Other illicit cultivation of narcotic
plants, primarily marijuana, is minor and has no significant impact on the
Drug Flow and Transit. Turkey remains one of the major transit routes for
the flow of Southwest Asian heroin to Europe. There is little evidence that
heroin from Turkey enters the United States, either directly or through
another transit state. We continue to monitor the flow of heroin through
Turkey for indications that it is becoming significant for the United
States, but no such indications have appeared thus far. Heroin, and to a
lesser degree, morphine base is smuggled through Turkey's eastern border.
Morphine base is refined in illicit labs, most often in the rural
Southeast or near Istanbul. Heroin is most commonly transferred to
Europe hidden in containers on trucks. Smaller amounts are transported
by bus or air passengers, or in private vehicles. Of note, in 1998, was the
seizure of approximately 550 kilograms of cocaine from a ship on Turkey's
southern coast. This may be an indication of heroin-cocaine barter trade,
with South American cocaine entering Europe through traditional heroin
Reports of involvement in drug trafficking by the Kurdistan Worker's Party
(PKK) continue. The PKK, a terrorist separatist group active in the
southeast border region of Turkey, reportedly is paid protection money by
narcotics traffickers and refiners. PKK groups based in Europe are also
alleged to be involved in narcotics trafficking.
Demand Reduction. The single drug-prevention and substance-abuse facility,
the Amatem Clinic, treats drug addiction and alcoholism. The incidence of
substance abuse remains low, which the Turks attribute to a strong family
structure and the Muslim proscription of mind-altering substances. Amatem
Clinic has placed high priority on training family doctors, pharmacists,
and teachers to recognize the signs of drug abuse, and on gathering
reliable statistics on drug use.
IV. U.S. Policy Initiatives and Programs
U.S. Policy Initiatives. USG policy is to strengthen Turkey's law
enforcement capability to combat narcotics trafficking and to control money
laundering and financial crime. The USG provides anti-narcotics equipment
and training assistance to the Turkish National Police, training and
equipment to Turkish Customs aimed at strengthening border interdiction,
and training to the Turkish Financial Crimes Investigative Board. To assist
Turkey's effort to keep licit opiate production from moving into illicit
channels, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is helping Turkey to
increase the opiate ratio in poppy straw.
The USG anti-narcotics programs in Turkey, including training, are budgeted
at approximately $700,000.
Bilateral Cooperation. USG anti-narcotics agencies report that while the
number of interdictions has remained stable, the cooperation and
professionalism of Turkish law enforcement officials is improving. There
were a number of successful bilateral investigations in 1998, including the
seizure of 550 kilograms of cocaine.
The Road Ahead. Turkey is continuing its efforts to curtail drugs entering
through its borders, and to disrupt the flow of drug trafficking in Turkey.
Further legislation is needed to crack down on organized crime, improve
banking regulations, and limit parliamentary immunity to prosecution.
Active prosecution of pending money laundering cases, expected in the
coming year, will be a positive sign of Turkey's commitment to fighting
drugs and corruption.