Turkey’s Contributions in the Fight Against Drug Trafficking

Due to its location Turkey is exposed to extensive flow of licit and illicit goods. This location lies at the crossroads of the heroin production sites in Afghanistan and consumption markets in Europe. Turkey is also intensively exposed to the growing ATS and precursor trade between Europe and the Middle East.
Turkish counter-narcotics policy is based on three pillars. The first pillar focuses on the fight against domestic distribution networks and street dealers. The second pillar deals with the dismantling of the international drug trafficking networks. The third pillar concentrates on investigations related to the financing of terrorism (particularly the PKK) through drug trafficking.

In recent years, the Turkish National Police (TNP) has made nearly 20 percent of the global heroin seizures. Over the past decade, Turkey’s consistent cooperation with European counterparts led to the dismantling of numerous heroin networks along the Balkan route.

On the other hand, we have been observing that the Northern route is gaining gravity in terms of heroin trafficking, which led the Turkish law enforcement agencies to develop operational partnerships with our counterparts along this route. More recently, (2012-2013-2014) Anti-Smuggling & Organized Crime Department (KOM) under the TNP has conducted 11 heroin operations in collaboration with Sweden, USA, UK, Canada, Austria and Macedonia. These operations resulted in the seizure of over 20.400 kilograms of heroin and 56.738 kilograms of opium gum.

In addition to active participation in bilateral and multilateral operations, Turkey also provides distinguished training to the personnel of the national law enforcement agencies of many countries. We have been organizing training programs through the Turkish International Academy against Drugs and Organized Crime (TADOC) for the benefit of the counter-narcotic units of many countries, including Afghanistan, Pakistan, as well as the countries of the Middle East, Central Asia and the Balkans. TADOC is also a significant contributor to the training projects organized within international organizations and institutions such as the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO), Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC), and SELEC. Currently, TADOC, as a leading Academy in the region, is referred to by UNODC as a “Center of Excellence” while its work is presented as “best practices” to the rest of the world. Since its establishment in 2000, TADOC has organized a total of over 500 international training programs with the participation of nearly 9.000 law enforcement personnel from 88 countries.

Methamphetamine has become a new threat after 2009. Over the past two years, the number of meth operations have increased by 55.7 % and the volume of its seizures by 39 %. Turkish authorities work closely with Malaysian, Japanese and Thai authorities against methamphetamine trafficking. In 2012, a joint investigation of Turkish and US agencies led to the seizure of nearly 2,6 kilograms of meth. A Turkish-Italian joint investigation led to the seizure of 2,8 kilograms and a Turkish-UK joint investigation led to the seizure of nearly 709 grams of meth.

Currently, Turkey is affected by the cocaine traffic both as a transit and a target country.

We have also been working closely with Saudi Arabian and Bulgarian law enforcement agencies against captagon trafficking.

Turkey is a target country for ecstasy which is produced in the Netherlands and Belgium. Turkish law enforcement agencies are engaged in close cooperation with the source countries and are keen to increase the level of cooperation.

To increase the efficiency of police cooperation, Turkey has recently expanded its police liaison network to 27 countries across the world. We use this network to conduct international operations.

In 2012, Turkey conducted 14 joint operations with Romania, Macedonia, Germany, USA, Sweden, Italy and the UK. In 2013, 25 joint operations were conducted by the Turkish law enforcement authorities with 15 countries, 10 of these operations being controlled deliveries. In 2014, Turkey conducted a joint operation with France and 4 controlled delivery operations with Germany, UK, Austria and Sweden.

During the last decade, nearly 119 international operations and 91 multinational controlled deliveries have been carried out with 35 countries. Despite these achievements, we sometimes face challenges in international cooperation emanating mainly from differences in national legislations and diversity in institutional priorities of countries.

In other words, Turkey efficiently contributes to all efforts in fighting drug abuse as well as trafficking, through an effectively functioning network of bilateral and multilateral cooperation. Turkey is present in major activities of international organizations and readily shares expertise and experience in this area.
PKK/KCK terrorist organization is considered to be an important player in the international drug smuggling network due to its widespread connections in Turkey and Europe. Conducted operations indicate that the narco-terrorist activities of PKK/KCK terrorist organization are not limited to extortion or collection of protection money from smugglers but also include international delivery of drugs. Details of statistics and related analysis may be accessed through “www.kom.pol.tr”.

During the last decade, TNP-KOM has become a principal actor in global and regional counter- narcotic efforts. This accomplishment is mainly due to utmost care in deployment of the KOM staff and their sophisticated training schemes. All new recruits are obliged to participate in long-term training programs in TADOC, which are jointly developed by KOM and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

Turkish Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction (TUBİM), which operates under KOM, has been established as a national focal point of the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA), with the aim of monitoring drug use as well as the supply and demand aspect of drugs, in order to collect and report data to EMCDDA.

TUBİM is also responsible for the preparation of The National Strategy/Action Plans and The Annual Turkish Drug Report, which includes all relevant data concerning drugs.

“National Drug Policy and Strategy Document” covering the period 2013-2018 and the “Third National Drug Action Plan” covering the period 2013-2015 have both been prepared by the Turkish Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (TUBİM). The above Action Plan seeks a balanced, effective and coordinated approach at the national level with regard to tackling the demand and supply of drugs.

As proposed by the first Action Plan, Provincial Coordination Boards on Drugs have been established in all provinces of Turkey. Furthermore, local Action Plans were prepared in 78 provinces.

There is an Early Warning System (EWS) controlled by TUBIM to identify and assess new drugs. If the Working Group of the EWS deems necessary, a substance may be brought under legal control in accordance with the Law 2313 on the Control of Drugs. In 2011, 19 new substances were brought under legal control including bonsai, khat, synthetic cannabinoid and cathinone. A total of 274 substances were included in the mentioned Law by the Early Warning System between 2008 and 2015.

Besides monitoring, TUBİM and its local contact points (ILTEMs) also carry out demand reduction activities. Demand reduction experts conduct awareness raising activities to reduce the demand for narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances. TUBİM and the ILTEMs publish books, magazines and other relevant material to raise the consciousness and awareness of the public (particularly the youth) against drug abuse. They also follow issues related to treatment.

In conclusion, it is worth mentioning that TUBİM has been the organizer of two International Drug Conferences in 2011 and 2013, which brought together national and international experts to discuss contemporary issues on the global drug problem.