Turkish jet seized with 1.3 tons of cocaine in Brazil 'belongs to Erdoğan-linked businessman'

The co-pilot of a jet on which 1.3 tons of cocaine were seized in August said that the aircraft belongs to Ethem Sancak, a businessman who has cooperating closely with President Erdoğan, daily Birgün reported on Sept. 6. A day later after this report, the main opposition CHP filed parliamentary questions asking if these allegations are true.

President Erdoğan (L) and businessman Ethem Sancak are seen in the inset photo.

Duvar English

The main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) has submitted two parliamentary questions asking the government if the Turkish jet on which 1.3 tons of cocaine were sezied in August belongs to a businessman known to have close ties to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

“Does the TC-GVA numbered business jet on which approximately 1.5 tons of drugs were seized in Brazil belong to Ethem Sancak? When the flight data of the plane for the last 10 years is analyzed, who has used this plane on which dates and where?” asked CHP MP Alpay Antmen in his parliamentary questions addressing Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu and Transportation Minister Adil Karaismailoğlu, Turkish media outlets reported on Sept. 7.

The parliamentary questions were filed after daily Birgün on Sept. 6 quoted the co-pilot of the jet as saying that Ethem Sancak was the real owner of the aircraft.

The private jet with tail number TC-GVA was caught in Brazil with 24 suitcases carrying 1.3 tons of cocaine. It is owned by investment firm Affan Yatırım Holding A.Ş. through its subsidiary, ACM Air.

The CEO of the company is Çiğdem Özkan, who was a lawmaker nominee for Erdoğan's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in the 2018 general elections, the daily Birgün said in its report.

Özkan's family is known to be working closely with businessman Sancak, who has been cooperating with Erdoğan in running several companies, that are known to have been receiving lucrative deals from the government.

Although Affan Holding previously said that the seized drugs have “no connection whatsoever to our company and staff,” the aircraft's co-pilot M.D.'s testimony contradicts this statement.

“The same company also carried the [Masoud] Barzani family with drugs. They have avoided being caught at the last minute. An illegal license was arranged for the [chief] pilot Vedat Demir. The real owner of the company is Ethem Sancak,” daily Birgün quoted the co-pilot as saying.

“It is impossible for a pilot not to know the materials that are being carried in a plane. A pilot knows every gram and quality of it because the flight's details and fuel are arranged accordingly,” the co-pilot M.D. further said.

Shortly after the drug bust, Brazilian authorities arrested the chief pilot Demir, along with a Spanish national to whom the suitcases belonged.

The Brazilian authorities said they have proof that Demir had prior knowledge about the cocaine on board the jet.