Bootleg alcohol kills 12 in Istanbul as police detain 15 suspects

Bootleg alcohol kills 12 in Istanbul as police detain 15 suspects

ISTANBUL – Doğan News Agency
Bootleg alcohol kills 12 in Istanbul as police detain 15 suspects

DHA Photo

Counterfeit rakı consumption has killed 12 and poisoned dozens more, prompting police to launch operations in four Istanbul districts, detaining 15 suspected of producing bootleg alcohol. 

Seventeen people are also currently undergoing treatment in hospital, according to figures supplied by Health Minister Mehmet Müezzinoğlu.

Seven people were admitted to Samatya Training and Research Hospital in Istanbul’s Fatih district with complaints including deliquium, severe stomachache, vomiting and sight impairment within the last three days.

Those in hospital are also exhibiting problems in their kidneys, livers and eyes.

Officers from the homicide department launched an investigation after one of the patients, Ercan Tümey, passed away due to alcohol poisoning, with authorities identifying methyl as one of the components in the fake drinks.

One of those poisoned in the incident, Serkan Okansoy, called on the government to lower the price of rakı to prevent similar future incidents. “Please, make rakı a bit cheaper. Fake rakı is 5 Turkish Liras, while [normal] rakı the size of a bottle of pop is 38 liras. Everyone is forced to buy this,” he said. “They say the stuff comes from Bulgaria. It doesn’t come from Bulgaria; it’s made here. It used to come from Bulgaria, but now they make it under the stairs,” he said. Authorities issued a warning for people to be aware of alcoholic drinks labeled as “Bulgarian rakı.” Police raided a number of addresses after determining that the counterfeit alcohol was being sold in shops in Fatih, Küçükçekmece, Bağcılar, Esenler and Gaziosmanpaşa districts. 

Fifteen people were detained for producing, supplying and selling bootleg alcohol.

Mechanisms used in bootleg alcohol production and bottles of counterfeit alcohol were seized in the suspects’ houses. 

In a written statement, Turkey’s Health Ministry announced that 47 people had been admitted to hospitals due to alcohol poisoning since Oct. 18, 12 of whom later died.