Turkey emerges as vital hub for drug trafficking connecting continents: Report

According to a UN report, cocaine seized in Turkey in 2022 increased by 42 percent compared to the previous year. This supports Turkey’s Anti-Narcotics Directorate's proposal of a new route from South America to Turkey for the trafficking of drugs to the Middle East and Europe.

Turkish police in 2021 seize more than one ton of cocaine in Mersin Port.

Duvar English

In recent years, the Turkish authorities' arrest of prominent figures involved in the drug trafficking and the substantial surge in drug seizures within the country have brought to light Turkey's pivotal role as a significant hub in the global drug trade, according to reporting by daily BirGün.

Following the capture of leader of the internationally known drug cartel Isaac Bignan on June 23 and the apprehension of Antony Finix, who oversees the cartel's armed faction, along with the subsequent detention of numerous Turkish citizens associated with the organization, attention has once again shifted to Turkey's role in the cocaine trade originating from Latin America.

The United Nations (UN) International Narcotics Control Board's (INCB) 2022 report reveals that Turkey has became a transit point for many drugs to reach markets in the Middle East and Europe.

The fact that the amount of cocaine seized in Turkey in 2022 reached a record high of 2.8 tons, an increase of 42 percent compared to the previous year, supports the statement of the Turkish Anti-Narcotic Crimes Directorate that a new route from South America to Turkey was established in 2021.

The UN Office on Drugs and Crime's (UNODC) Global Report on Cocaine shows that the amount of cocaine seized in Turkey increased sevenfold between 2014 and 2021, but the seriousness of the situation becomes even more apparent when the drugs seized before they can be sent to Turkey are taken into account.

In recent years, there has been a significant increase in the amount of cocaine seized in countries such as Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Panama and Brazil while being sent to Turkey.

The report indicated a substantial price disparity for cocaine, where it can be acquired for under 2,000 dollars per kilo in South America, while its value surges to over 50,000 dollars in Europe and surpasses 200,000 dollars Middle Eastern countries. This significant price discrepancy has intensified the interest of international criminal organizations in these markets.

According to Colombia-based Insight Crime, which conducts research on global organized crime and drug trafficking, Turkey-based drug traffickers have turned to the cocaine trade as opium prices have fallen in recent years.

Insight Crime stated that the experience of Turkish drug traffickers in heroin trafficking and smuggling from Asia to Europe and their connections to organized crime syndicates in Asia and Europe offer significant opportunities for cocaine trafficking.

This map indicating cocaine trafficking routes is taken from Insight Crime.