Four Turkish drug lords’ paths cross in wheelchairs

Four Turkish drug lords’ paths cross in wheelchairs

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Four Turkish drug lords’ paths cross in wheelchairs

Three drug lords are now wheelchair-bound due to gun wounds they received while escaping from police or others. Yakut, on the other hand, was wounded when he jumped from the second floor, running from the police. Hürriyet photos

The foremost drug dealers of Turkey, who engaged in innumerable international illegal activities, were eventually all confined to wheelchairs for similar reasons, according to a report by daily Akşam reporter Devrim Tosunoğlu.

The four drug barons, Urfi Çetinkaya, Cemal Nayir, Abdullah Baybaşin and Cumhur Yakut, once made Turkey infamous as a crossroads for drug dealing. Sought for their illegal activities for many years, they spent their lives on the run, hiding in various countries. When they had eventually no place to hide, they had to return to Turkey and were arrested soon after arriving home.

One of the drug leaders, Urfi Çetinkaya, was first arrested for tobacco smuggling in 1977. Shortly after the Sept. 12, 1980 military coup, he was arrested on charges of arm and bullet smuggling, but then released. However, he was arrested again for injuring someone. In 1988, police shot Çetinkaya in the waist while he was trying to escape police in Istanbul’s Etiler district.

After that he had to use a wheelchair. However, his handicap did not prevent his illegal activities; he preserved his fame in the underground. After an endless number of operations, Çetinkaya was again arrested at his home in 2000 in a large-scale operation. After three years of imprisonment, he was released in 2003 due to health problems. However, he did not quit his illegal activities and was arrested once more in another operation. He was released in 2012 again for health concerns.

Injured in gun attack

Cemal Nayir, another drug baron, was also detained in the same operation with Çetinkaya. But unlike Çetinkaya, he was released after detainment, while Çetinkaya accused Nayir of espionage. Nayir was assaulted in a gun attack while he was driving on Istanbul’s TEM Highway.

Injured as a result of the attack, he became wheelchair-bound as well. When his partner Çetinkaya was in prison, Nayir went on drug dealing. He was eventually caught with 80 kilos of heroin and imprisoned again.

The third name, Abdulah Baybaşin, was also confined to a wheelchair after he was shot in a bar in England during the 1980s.

In 2011, he was acquitted from the drug dealing case he was charged with in England, and returned to Turkey. After arriving in Turkey, Baybaşin and his son were arrested at their home in Istanbul along with 15 others including Mehmet Sait Özmen, who was alleged to be the other owner of the seized cocaine, and Spanish Ricardo Alarcon O, English Brian M., Bulgarian Abdülbaki H. and Dutch Nematollah A.

The fourth dealer, Cumhur Yakut, was sought for smuggling 520 kilos and 410 grams of heroin that were seized in Greece by Turkish police in 2000.

In 2001, when 316 kilograms of heroin was seized in Istanbul, he was put on Interpol’s red notice wanted list. He was also wanted for other cases including 64,334 kilograms of heroin seized in the southern province of

Mersin in 2004 and 30 kilograms of heroin and 50 liters of acetic anhydride seized in the eastern province of Van in 2000. Also on the list of the top four drug barons of the U.S., Yakut was arrested in another operation. However, his moment of arrest led him to the same fate with his colleagues. Both his legs were broken when he jumped from a 5-meter wall, leaving him obliged to make his way to prison in a wheelchair.

Click here to read the original story in Turkish on daily Akşam's website.