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Seizure of illegal drugs in Turkey on the rise

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News | 12/8/2010 12:00:00 AM |

Increasing quantities of illegal drugs are being intercepted in Turkey as seizures in Europe decline, figures that have been attributed both to Turkey’s critical positioning as a transit route and ramped-up efforts by Turkish narcotics units.

Increasing quantities of illegal drugs are being intercepted in Turkey as seizures in Europe decline, figures that have been attributed both to Turkey’s critical positioning as a transit route and ramped-up efforts by Turkish narcotics units.

“Turkey is located in a region that is affected by three main heroin drug-trafficking routes, namely: the Balkan route, the northern (Black Sea) route and an eastern Mediterranean route. The Balkan route directly affects Turkey,” the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction wrote in the country overview for Turkey in its 2010 annual report.

According to figures in the report, seizures of heroin and herbal cannabis are higher in Turkey than in other European countries. While Turkey reported a threefold increase in the quantity of heroin seized between 2003 and 2008, the amount seized in the European Union during that same period declined, said the report, which was released last month.

In Europe, an estimated 56,600 seizures resulted in the interception of 23.6 tons of heroin in 2008. The U.K. continued to report the highest number of drug seizures, while Turkey intercepted the greatest total quantity, with 15.5 tons recovered in 2008. The quantity of heroin seized in Turkey in 2001 was 3.71 kilograms, according to the EMCDDA figures.

The November report depicts Turkey as a critical country for efforts to combat the trafficking of illegal drugs, especially heroin. “Turkey has a lot of territory on the so-called Balkan transit route for opium and its derivatives, originating from Afghanistan en route to Western Europe, and also acts as a transit route for Captagon (amphetamine) tablets originating in Eastern Europe, en route to countries in the Middle East,” the report said.

Heroin produced in Afghanistan is carried along the Balkan route through Pakistan, Iran and Turkey, and then through other transit or destination countries, including Albania, Hungary, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, the former Yugoslav republics, Romania, Slovakia, Austria and Italy, according to the report.

The increasing number of illegal-drug seizures in Turkey is due to increased capacity for anti-drug operations, the Turkish Interior Ministry’s Anti-Smuggling and Organized Crime Department said in its 2009 national report, which it prepared for the EMCDDA.

“It can be suggested that the main reasons for this increase are the increased capacity of Turkey in counteracting illicit drug trafficking, the increased importance given to international information exchange and cooperation and the relentless and dedicated efforts of Turkish narcotics units,” Turkey wrote in its national report for the European body.

Turkey carried out 28,734 anti-drug-trafficking operations in 2007 and 32,100 in 2008, an increase of 11.7 percent. The country has increased the operational capacity of its law-enforcement units and placed increased importance on street operations. “Additionally, it can be said that the amendments made in relevant laws with regard to criminal investigations also had positive reflections in anti-drug activities,” Turkey said in its national report.

Turkey revised its National Policy and Strategy Document on Counteracting Addictive Substance and Substance Addiction in 2006 and agreed to implement the European Union’s strategy on the issue.

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