Turkey seized the largest amount of heroin and MDMA tablets in 2020 among 29 countries — the EU Member States, Norway and Turkey — BBC Turkish service reported earlier this week, citing the European Drug Report for 2022.
MDMA is a synthetic drug that acts as a stimulant and hallucinogen. Ecstasy is the most common way people take the drug.
The report is based on information provided to the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) by the 29 countries in an annual reporting process.
According to the report, the EU Member States reported 18,000 heroin seizures amounting to 5.1 tons in 2020, with France (1.1 tons), Belgium (0.7 tons), Italy (0.5 tons) and Poland (0.5 tons) reporting large quantities, while Turkey seized over 13.4 tons of heroin in the same year.
Heroin seizures of the EU Member States totaled 7.9 tons in 2019, when Turkey reported seizing 20 tons, the report said, adding that indicators of heroin use and reductions in the quantity of heroin seized by Turkey and Bulgaria in 2020 together with large seizures reported in other transit countries were suggestive that COVID-19 transport restrictions might have disrupted the trafficking of the drug along the Balkan route into the EU.
“Heroin remains Europe’s most commonly used illicit opioid and the drug responsible for most drug-induced deaths,” the report said.
Turkey also reported seizing a record 11.1 million MDMA tablets in 2020, while the EU countries seized 4.7 million in the same period, according to the report.
The report said Turkey also reported 8,300 seizures of cannabis resin amounting to 37.5 tons and 46,900 seizures of herbal cannabis amounting to 56.3 tons in 2020 in addition to seizing 0.7 tons of amphetamine – including 2.9 million tablets reported as “captagon” – and 4.1 tons of methamphetamine.
There were 314 drug-related deaths in Turkey in 2020, with 80 percent of them between the ages of 25 and 44, the report said, adding that Turkey also ranked first among the countries examined in the number of people who died from an overdose.
Last month Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu accused the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), in particular Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu, of involvement in facilitating money laundering and drug trafficking in the country.
The CHP leader claimed that the government was using the “black money” that was coming into Turkey from drug trafficking to close the country’s current account deficit.
Mob boss Sedat Peker had also talked about the alleged involvement of the AKP in international drug trafficking in a video in 2021. Peker, who lives in exile in UAE and makes scandalous revelations about the dirty relations between the Turkish government and mafia and crime groups, claimed that Erkan Yıldırım, son of former vice president Binali Yıldırım, who is currently deputy chairman of the AKP, was part of a major drug trafficking ring involving Venezuela and Turkey.
Peker, the head of one of Turkey’s most powerful mafia groups who was once a staunch supporter of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, is the subject of an outstanding warrant in Turkey and can’t continue his revelations on social media these days due to restrictions imposed by the UAE on him.