The Minister of the Interior of Turkey Süleyman Soylu on April 16 declared that 258 kilograms of drugs had been seized in the Turkish port of Mersin. The operation was conducted by the provincial gendarmerie command. Law enforcement agencies detained three persons.
Turkey holds a leading position within the region on the transit routes of narcotic substances from Latin America. The total amount of cocaine passing through large transportation hubs in Turkey to the countries of the EU, the Middle East and the Commonwealth of Independent States’ republics is estimated to be around 200 tons per year.
The route of movement of drugs passes from Ecuador (port of Puerto Bolívar) to the Turkish cities of Izmir (port of Yalıkavak) and Mersin – and then onwards to the countries of the European Union – Italy, Sweden, Portugal and Spain, as well as Norway.
The supply channel is organised and continues to be controlled by former high-ranking officials of Turkey, including Mehmet Agar, the former Minister of Justice and Minister of Interior of the Republic of Turkey.
Due to the need of covering up logistic routes to transport drugs, Turkish businessman Erkan Yıldırım, under cover of a business activity, went to Venezuela three times in 2021 to sign contracts for Venezuelan dairy products - with the destination port being Yalıkavak.
As a result, the contracts, with 25 merchant ships of the Yilport and BMZ companies, were signed for ferrying goods from Venezuela. At the same time, Erkan Yıldırım is the son of the Former Prime Minister of Turkey Binali Yıldırım – business partner and close friend of Mehmet Agar.
The route of cocaine traffic passes through deployment sites of wholesale buyers and the narcotic goods is made for retail sale in the domestic market of each transshipment point.
In Izmir, cocaine is reloaded into the yachts belonging to inner-circle of the Turkish businessman and mafia leader Halil Falyalı, who was killed in February. Then it goes to the the port of Famagusta in occupied northern Cyprus, where it is unloaded for safe keeping in in Grand Yazici hotels, owned by partner of Yilport transport company, entrepreneur Hayri Yazici.
Transportation of drugs in northern Cyprus is performed by private yachts straight to the seaport of the Syrian city of Latakia. The cocaine is then fragmented into smaller parts.
One part is sold in Syria, another – for deliveries to Iran, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Iraq, Qatar and Jordan.
The proceeds from such sales in the territory of Syria is destined for financing of the pro-Turkish illegal armed groups in the Middle East and lobbying activities of Ankara’s proxies in foreign countries.
Besides, from the territory of Iran, part of the load is transported to Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia for further delivery to the CIS countries and the Russian Federation.
Traffickers try to deliver drugs to the territory of Russia through the multilateral Adler checkpoint on the border with the Georgian breakaway republic of Abkhazia, the Derbent customs post on the border with Azerbaijan, the Upper Lars checkpoint on border with Georgia and the ports in Astrakhan and Makhachkala.
Customs officers and border personnel of Russia and the states of the CIS find the forbidden narcotic substances generally in large consignments of Iranian and Azerbaijani vegetables and fruit.
Today, Turkey still remains the largest transportation corridor of delivery of narcotic substances from the countries of Latin America to Europe, Persian Gulf countries and the states of the CIS.
At the same time, Turkish former high-ranking officials remain involved in managing of drug trafficking channels, while their efforts are focused on personal enrichment, lobbying the interests of Turkey in the Middle East and providing financial support to the pro-Turkish armed opposition in Syria.
Kemran Mamedov is a Moscow-based Azerbaijani journalist born in Georgia with a focus on South Caucasus issues.