Three people arrested at Turkish border for chemical smuggling worth $2.5 million
ARTVİN - Doğan News Agency
DHA PhotosTwo smugglers of Georgian origin have been arrested at Turkey’s northeastern border for attempting to smuggle caesium and a mercury-like substance, with a combined estimated market value of $2.5 million.
Customs and law enforcement officers caught the suspects after the alarm of the x-ray body scanner was triggered on June 19, as the smugglers tried to enter the country through the Sarp border crossing in the northeastern province of Artvin.
Further screening revealed that the suspects were carrying 1.24 kilograms of caesium in two glass tubes and 48.23 grams of the mercury-like substance in six tubes, as well as nine precious stones of different sizes and colors.
After the police questioned the suspects under custody, a 60-year-old Turkish citizen was also detained for his involvement with the smugglers.
All three suspects were taken a court, which ruled for their arrest.
Reports indicate that the tubes containing caesium and the mercury-like substance were turned over to officials of the Turkish Atomic Energy Authority.
Smuggling of “orphaned” radioactive sources has become widespread since the collapse of central authority in former USSR states with the disintegration of the Soviet Union.
The Black Sea region has since become an important route in chemical smuggling, with 630 incidents reported between 1991 and 2012, according to a report prepared for the EU Non-Proliferation Consortium.
While the first incident in Turkey occurred in 1993, Turkey is the country with the third highest number of recorded incidents, after Russia and Ukraine, the report also states.