Turkish police raid Congo-flagged ship, seize record size of heroin in Mediterranean

Turkish police raid Congo-flagged ship, seize record size of heroin in Mediterranean

MUĞLA - Anadolu Agency
Turkish police raid Congo-flagged ship, seize record size of heroin in Mediterranean Turkish authorities have staged a major anti-drug operation off the Suez Canal and seized over a ton of heroin on a ship called “Commander Tide.” 

The operation was launched on June 2 after the Department of Struggle Against Narcotic Crimes determined that a Congo-flagged merchant ship loaded with a total of 1,071 kilograms of heroin was sailing in the Mediterranean, state-run Anadolu Agency reported on June 7. 

Upon receiving notification regarding the ship, the authorities found that the drugs on the ship were planned to be brought into Turkey and that all of the ship’s crew were Turkish.  

In accordance with international agreements, efforts were launched to apprehend the crew and confiscate the drugs. The Turkish Interior Ministry contacted the Defense Ministry and obtained support from the Naval Forces Command. 

Under the coordination of the Department of Struggle Against Narcotic Crimes, teams from Mersin Special Forces Department, Naval Forces Command and Coast Guard Command launched a joint operation off the Suez Canal. 

The operation in international waters ended after the ship, with its nine-people crew, was taken to Aksaz Naval Base Command in the resort town of Marmaris located in the southern province of Muğla on June 2 after a 24-hour-long journey. 

Teams from the police’s anti-drug branch and Muğla Coast Guard Command carried out searches on the ship and found clandestine sections, of which one included 1,071 kilograms of heroin hidden in 40 sacks. 

According to the police, the amount of heroin corresponds to the highest seized by security forces in Turkey’s recent history. 

The operation was dedicated to a soldier killed in a bomb attack in the Mediterranean. Alper Al, who was a member of the Coast Guard Command, was killed in a terror attack on May 22, 2016. 

The police vowed to continue operations against narcotic smuggling inside Turkey and in the international arena if necessary with determination. 

Meanwhile, the drugs seized during the “Soldier Alper Al Operation” were taken to Marmaris police headquarters in sacks and were shown to the journalists. A sniffer dog called “Zeta” was also present at the police headquarters. 

The estimated market value of the drugs was stated to be approximately 200 million Turkish Liras. 

Anadolu Agency said the interrogations of the captain, identified only as A.E., and the crew, identified only by the initials H.A.G., O.İ., B.C., L.E., B.P., Y.P., M.K. and M.I., were ongoing in Marmaris. 

Furthermore, authorities determined that the drugs were packed in Afghanistan and the ship took off from a port in Egypt to head to Greece.