TURKISH DIPLOMATIC PERSONNEL APPREHENDED WHILE SMUGGLING CIGARETTES, DRUGS
Two people working at Turkish diplomatic missions overseas were caught smuggling drugs and cigarettes, using diplomatic vehicles, the Taraf daily reported on Sunday.

A.İ, who worked at the Turkish Consulate in İran's city of Urmia was apprehended on March 4 by police in the Erciş district of Van province, who seized a large quantity of heroin from the vehicle, which had diplomatic license plates, according to Taraf.

A.İ. was arrested and suspended by the Foreign Ministry, which had previously launched an internal investigation into possible illegal activities by diplomatic personnel, the details of which were not released to the public.

In another incident, O.A., who worked at Turkey's embassy in Baku, was apprehended by police at the Azerbaijani-Georgian border while smuggling hundreds of boxes of cigarettes in his vehicle, which had diplomatic license plates. Separate investigations were launched against O.A. by Turkey and Azerbaijan.

Taraf notes that similar incidents have been known to occur involving personnel from Turkey's foreign missions in Asia and Africa whose details have not been made public.

The Foreign Ministry, which launched a thorough investigation into the incidents, also has concerns that diplomatic personnel who took part
in illegal activities might have accomplices in other public institutions in Turkey, similar to what happened in the infamous Susurluk affair, in which a car accident exposed links between public officials, the criminal underworld, including drug dealers, and security forces in 1996.

The ministry is also investigating whether there are other illegal activities diplomatic personnel are involved in besides smuggling
drugs and tobacco.

Turkey serves as a “transit route for opium” smuggled from Afghanistan according to “The 2013 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR)” prepared by the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs in the US State Department. It is sold in Europe after transport via Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey.

Official statistics show that there has been a serious decline in the amount of drugs seized in operations. According to police statistics,
166,268 kilograms of cannabis were confiscated in Turkey in 2013. This declined to 83,840 kilograms in 2014. Police teams seized 9,843
kilograms of heroin in 2013, but the amount of heroin seized in 2014 stood at 10,000 kilograms.

Reports indicate that the police performance in terms of seizing illicit drugs deteriorated in 2014. A total of 3,307,000 ecstasy tablets were seized in 2013; however, the amount significantly declined by 53.8 percent in 2014 to 1,528,000 tablets. 

Todays Zaman
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785 reads | 03.06.2015
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