Turkey Seizes PKK Marijuana Stash in Major Crackdown
By Dialogo December 18, 2012
The Turkish Army has seized more than 20 tons of marijuana from Kurdish rebels in what local authorities said December 15 was one of the biggest ever crackdowns on “terrorist income.”
“We have unearthed 21-tons of marijuana, as well as several cells filled with ammunition and explosives,” said Mustafa Toprak, governor of the Kurdish-majority Diyarbakir province in Turkey’s southeast.
The stash, with an estimated street value of US$ 22.4 million, was seized after hundreds of special security forces were deployed on December 13.
“The operation landed a huge blow to the terrorist income,” Toprak said, referring to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), whose main source of income is believed to be drug trafficking.
Ankara says Turkish troops frequently seize sacks full of hashish and marijuana near Turkey’s border with Iran and Syria, where the PKK stashes the bags for shipment to Europe.
In October, marijuana with an estimated value of US$ 1.1 million was seized in the eastern province of Van.
The PKK, considered a terrorist organization by much of the Western world and Turkey, denies drug trafficking.
Several PKK leaders are labeled as suspected drug traffickers in the United States, which has frozen their assets and shunned them from doing business there.
This year has seen an increase in drug seizures in Turkey, as well as an escalation of clashes between the PKK and Turkish forces, which have claimed 45,000 lives since rebels took up arms in 1984.