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U.S. Department of State
1996 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report, March 1997

United States Department of State

Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs


I. Summary

Although Turkey is not an opium producing country for the illicit market, it does play an increasingly significant role in processing opiate raw material into heroin, and is a major transit route for Southwest Asian narcotics (especially heroin) for the Western European market, and to a lesser extent the US. As much as 75 percent of heroin seized in Europe has been processed in or smuggled through Turkey. Turkey signed the 1988 UN Convention in 1988.
The Convention was passed by Turkish Parliament in November 1995 and formally ratified in February 1996. A member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), Turkey passed anti-money laundering legislation in late 1996 that conforms to FATF recommendations. Consumption of narcotics in Turkey is low, but Turks recognize an increase in the use of opiates and cannabis.

II. Status of Country

Turkey is not, and is not likely to become, a major illicit opium growing country or a producer of precursor chemicals. It does play a significant role in processing opiate raw material into heroin. Turkey is recognized as a "traditional" poppy growing country by the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) and by the USG for the licit opiate market. As such, there is licit cultivation of opium poppy to meet legitimate world demand for cooking and pharmaceutical uses. This production is confined to certain areas and carefully monitored. There is no evidence that licit production moves into illicit channels.

The surge in seizures of acetic anhydride (AA) imports in 1995 continued in 1996. Between October 1995 and July 1996, Turkish law enforcement officers intercepted more than 51 mt of AA, an essential precursor chemical for heroin production. One kilo of AA plus one kilo of morphine base produce one kilo of heroin and some by-products. Thus, 51 mt of AA could produce 51 mt of heroin.
This confirms that Turkey is an important processing center for illicit opiate products, as well as a traditional narcotics transit route. While the total amount of heroin and morphine base smuggled into Turkey is unknown, DEA estimates that four to six mt of heroin a month leave Turkey for Western Europe.

Turkey has in place anti-money laundering legislation in conformance with FATF recommendations. Implementing regulations are in process. Corruption and money laundering have become major topics on Turkey's political agenda. For example, the government is considering restricting access to or closing all casinos; part of the justification is that casinos are used to launder proceeds from narcotics trafficking.

III. Country Action Against Drugs in 1996

Policy Initiatives. In November, the Turkish Parliament passed anti-money laundering legislation which formally criminalized the laundering of proceeds from trafficking in narcotics, illegal arms, historical artifacts, organized prostitution or the illegal trade in human organs. Other provisions include controlled delivery, and asset seizure. The law calls for the Finance Ministry to set up a Financial Crimes Investigation Board (FCIB) that will conduct studies for the prevention of money laundering, exchange information with international organizations, and investigate money laundering cases.

In February, Turkey ratified the 1988 UN Convention, which had been passed by the Turkish Parliament in 1995.

Accomplishments. The major significant development during 1996 in achieving the goals and objectives of the 1988 Convention was the passing of anti-money laundering legislation in November, described above. Implementing rules and regulations are still in process. The FCIB is expected to be named within the next few weeks. The structure of the money laundering legislation meets FATF recommendations, including controlled delivery.

Law Enforcement Efforts. Turkish enforcement agencies--the Turkish National Police (TNP), Jandarma (rural Police), Customs and Coast Guard)--work closely with the US and other countries in pursuing narcotics investigations and prosecuting traffickers. Spain, the UK, Nordic Countries, Germany, Italy and France have narcotics liaison officers posted in Turkey.

According to Turkish Press reports, the Turkish Police (TNP) seized seven mt of hashish, three tons of heroin, and 12 kgs of cocaine during the year. A total of 4,060 suspects, including 136 foreigners, were detained on drug-related charges. Authorities destroyed seven heroin laboratories.

Corruption. There is no Government of Turkey (GOT) policy encouraging or facilitating the illicit production or distribution of drug, or money laundering. However, alleged corruption of state officials--including strong ties between state officials and drug traffickers--recently became a major topic in Turkey with the "Susurluk" scandal. In November, a Mercedes carrying a member of Parliament, a former Deputy Police Chief, and a wanted Interpol murder suspect (alleged to be a hit man for Turkish drug traffickers) crashed into a truck, killing the occupants. According to press reports, police found numerous weapons, false identification, and bags of an unspecified white powder in the car. The subsequent flood of allegations linking the Turkish drug mafia to Turkish politicians and state police officials led to the resignation of Interior Minister (and former Security Director in Istanbul) Mehmet Agar, and the establishment of a Parliamentary committee of inquiry to investigate possible government corruption.

This scandal was quickly followed by another, as an arrested money courier coming from Europe on her fiftieth trip in 1996 identified senior Turkish Police officers as her conduit for the drug money she carried. Police corruption in drug investigations, long kept just under the surface, appears to be finally coming to light. The public outrage of the disclosures bodes well for needed changes in anti-corruption efforts.

Agreements and Treaties. The USG and the GOT have longstanding bilateral treaties covering extradition and mutual assistance in criminal matters, and a narcotics assistance protocol. Turkey ratified the 1988 UN Convention, and is a member of the Financial Action Task Force for the prevention of money laundering.

Cultivation/Production. A small amount of cannabis is illicitly grown in Turkey. It is used locally and occasionally exported as hashish. Opium poppies are legally grown by licensed farmers. Licit opium production is strictly controlled, and there has been no known diversion into illicit channels.

Drug Flow/Transit. Turkey's geographic position as a land bridge between Europe and Southwestern Asia makes it a significant transit country for illicit narcotics. Morphine base, heroin base, and heroin from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran are smuggled into Turkey across the Turkish/Iranian border or through Turkish ports. These drugs transit Turkey to Western Europe, most commonly in TIR (sealed Transport Internationale Routier) trucks.
Morphine base arriving from Southwest Asia is also processed into heroin in Turkey, as evidenced by AA seizures and TNP crackdowns on heroin processing plants. Based on statistics from all sources, including European addict statistics, DEA estimates that 4-6 mt of heroin leave Turkey monthly. According to Turkish sources, smuggling narcotics through Turkey to Western Europe has become a major revenue source for the Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK), a terrorist organization. European law enforcement officials in six countries conducted raids on PKK-linked Kurdish drug distribution networks.

Demand Reduction. There is only one drug rehabilitation center in Turkey; it treats alcoholics as well as drug addicts. Consumption of narcotics is not perceived to be a major problem, although there is general awareness about the need for drug education. The Turkish security department has drug prevention programs in schools, especially aimed at 11- to 15-year-olds, who are considered to be at greatest risk of addiction.

IV. US Policy Initiatives and Programs

USG antinarcotics goals in Turkey are to:
  • Disrupt and diminish the transit of narcotics through Turkey, by providing narcotics control commodity and training assistance to the Turkish National Police, the primary Turkish narcotics interdiction and enforcement agency. The mission also provides training and equipment to Turkish Customs aimed at strengthening interdiction at Turkey's border gates. With the passage of anti-money laundering legislation in November, the US plans to start training in the detection of financial crimes related to narcotics trafficking.
  • Prevent leakage from licit poppy production. Turkey has successfully prevented opium leaks into illicit channels by controlling processing and monitoring growing areas. The USG proposed a project to enhance the opiate content of the poppy straw, which will enable the Turkish Government to further raise prices to the farmer, and diminish the area under cultivation. Reduction of the area under cultivation will lower security monitoring expenses.
  • Help address Turkey's small but growing drug abuse problem, by contributing funds to the Anatem Clinic, Turkey's only drug abuse and research center. Some FY-96 funds were used to purchase of automation equipment for the clinic.

Bilateral Cooperation. After a series of years of increasing interdiction operations, 1996 saw a leveling off. There were no major arrests based on bilateral cooperation between the USG and GOT.

The Road Ahead. Turkey will continue its anti-narcotics efforts. New legislation on corruption, and full enforcement of money laundering legislation, would be positive developments.

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