TURKEY tr-national

Alleged 'drug lord' in detention after Turkey's largest ever cocaine bust

ISTANBUL - Daily News with wires | 1/31/2011 12:00:00 AM |

Istanbul police made the biggest cocaine bust in the country’s history Friday in an operation that put an alleged 'drug lord' in detention.

Istanbul police made the biggest cocaine bust in the country’s history Friday in an operation that put an alleged “drug lord” in detention.

The 281.5 kilograms of cocaine confiscated on a ship that arrived in Istanbul on Thursday is reported to be the largest amount ever seized in a single operation in Turkey.

Abdullah Baybaşin and his son, accused of possessing the cocaine, have been taken into custody for questioning, as have a number of other suspects.

Istanbul police reportedly received intelligence about the shipment from Bolivia a year ago, when three empty shipments were made – apparently in order to determine whether police were watching for drug traffic between Bolivia and Turkey, according to reports.

Aware of the fake shipments, police did not raid any of the empty ships, reportedly in order to lull the alleged traffickers into a false sense of security.

The recently seized shipment was surveilled by helicopter as soon as it entered Turkish waters, and the bust began as soon as the ship was docked and started unloading at Ambarlı Port. The ship was searched, and the 975 packages of cocaine were found stuffed into hollowed-out wooden panels in the decking.

Baybaşin, who has been wheelchair-bound since he was shot in a bar in the U.K. in 1980, and son Çağdaş were detained at their villa in Ataköy the same night. Police searched the villa on Saturday, finding nothing but a safe, the code for which both Baybaşin and his son said they had forgotten.

A total of 15 people have been detained in the operation, including citizens of Spain, Holland and the United Kingdom.

Istanbul Deputy Police Chief Mehmet Likoğlu said members of a family who were running the narcotics from aboard were apprehended without naming Baybaşins.

Abdullah Baybaşin was imprisoned in the U.K. for heroin trafficking and came to Turkey three months ago after being released. He and his brothers have often been mentioned in the European press as major “drug lord” figures since the early 2000s.



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