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Turkish police seize 608 kilograms of cocaine, detain 13

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Turkish police have seized 608 kilograms of cocaine, the country’s third-largest bust to date, and detained 13 people, Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya announced Thursday on X.

The operation, called “Narkoçelik-11,” was centered in western Kocaeli province but spanned three provinces, including Antalya in the south and northwestern Tekirdağ province.

The authorities seized 608 kilograms of cocaine, a significant proportion of it in liquid form, in simultaneous raids.

The minister announced the operation on social media, highlighting the detention of four foreigners among the suspects. The operation targeted an international drug trafficking organization led by Lebanese-Venezuelan national Dani Talal Awad Abushanap.

Yerlikaya described the operation in which the chemical substances procured by the group were stored in a vineyard house in the rural area of Tekirdağ’s Saray district. The group allegedly transported these chemicals to Antalya, where they processed the cocaine mixed in fertilizer.

The seized items include 579.3 kilograms of liquid cocaine, 7.79 kilograms of compressed cocaine packages, 20.5 kilograms of cocaine mixed in fertilizer, 625 grams of cocaine, 827.5 kilograms of chemicals for drugs, a drug pressing machine, eight molds for pressing cocaine, a precision scale, a shotgun and various drug processing equipment.

This seizure represents the third largest amount of cocaine seized in a single operation in the country’s history. It comes at a time when Turkey’s role in the international drug trade, particularly as a transit country for cocaine from South America to Europe, is coming under increasing scrutiny.

A March report titled “Global Report on Cocaine 2023” revealed that Turkey’s role as a transit country for cocaine has been growing as the amount of the drug seized in the country increased to a record 2.8 tons in 2021.

According to the report, some of the cocaine reaching Turkey arrives after transiting West Africa and some comes directly from Latin America, with the outbound cocaine flowing westwards from Turkey through the Black Sea and the Balkans, a route traditionally associated with the trafficking of opiates and the smuggling of cigarettes.

This operation follows another major raid in which Turkish police intercepted 1.1 tons of cocaine hidden in a shipment of bananas from Ecuador at the port of Mersin, making it one of the largest drug seizures in the country’s history.

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