Turkish court frees international drug baron Abdullah Baybaşin
A Turkish court has freed an international drug baron, once accused of masterminding 90 percent of Britain’s heroin trade.
Baybaşin, who was confined to a wheelchair after he was shot in a bar in Britain during the 1980s, was arrested in Britain in 2006 over “managing an organized criminal group” and “drug trafficking” after being apprehended following eight months under tracking by British police.
In 2010, he was acquitted from the drug dealing case in which he was charged and he returned to Turkey. Two months after his arrival in Turkey, the Istanbul narcotic police completed an investigation that they had been carrying out for a year with an operation on Jan. 27, 2011, seizing 281 kilograms of cocaine from a ship that arrived in Ambarlı from Bolivia.
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, a Spanish citizen, a British citizen, a Bulgarian citizen and a Dutch citizen.
A month after the incident Özmen escaped from jail while attending the funeral of one of his relatives.
At that time, the court sentenced Baybaşin to 40 years and Özmen to 48 years in prison, but they were overturned by the Supreme Court.
In the latest hearing of the case held on Sept. 30, eight arrested suspects requested their release for passing five-year-long period of arrest. The court, in return, ruled for the release of several suspects, including Baybaşin, and adjourned the hearing to February 2018.
With the latest court ruling, no arrested suspects were left in the case into the 2011 Bolivia-Turkey drug smuggling case.
Baybaşin’s brother Hüseyin Baybaşin was once known as Europe’s Pablo Escobar after the late Colombian drug kingpin and was deemed “the most dangerous man” by the U.K. Interior Ministry.
In July 2002 Hüseyin Baybaşin was jailed for life in the Netherlands after being convicted of drug smuggling. With his imprisonment it was Abdullah Baybaşin’s turn at the helm.
Then-Detective Chief Inspector Robin Plummer, who led the eight-month-long surveillance operation, said at the time that “it was like watching a scene from The Godfather.”
“People were in awe of him. It was like watching a scene from The Godfather - people would come into the room and kiss his hand. He used to speak in a whisper ... in Turkish and Kurdish, so only the people close to him could hear,” Plummer said in 2006.
“At the height of their power the Baybaşin brothers had immense influence in the control of heroin trafficking. I would not be surprised if they were in control of about 90 percent of the heroin coming into Britain. If you wanted heroin or you were involved in a heroin deal then you had to go to Baybaşin,” he added.