Millions of cannabis roots were seized in Turkey at the end of last month in multiple anti-cannabis drug raids across the country. Then, another 2,000 were seized just this week.
Turkish media reports that today, 2,098 cannabis roots were seized based on an anonymous tip-off to authorities about cannabis growing and possible terrorist activities. Over 1,500 came from one bust, and the rest came from four districts in the Izmir province. Five suspects total have been apprehended.
At the end of June, a similar bust arrested two people and seized over 7.5 million roots. The roots came from 89 locations total, making this an extremely wide sweep.
Pot and PKK
The larger bust was part of an operation in the Lice districts and the province of Diyarbakir, and those cracking down claim that it is part of an attempt to stop the PKK group from trafficking drugs across the country. The bust also destroyed water pipes and water engines designed to help cultivate the cannabis in question.
Another operation carried out at the end of June turned up 1,371 cannabis roots in Kemalpasa and Beydag. The roots in this bust were also destroyed, and one suspect was apprehended, while another is being looked for. The one who was apprehended was trying to flee the scene with cannabis.
These large bust operations are breaking records, and according to authorities in Turkey, the PKK organization is likely behind a lot of this activity and has been for some time. They’ve been active since the 1980s, and Interpol estimates that up to 80 percent of European drugs come through their networks and into various countries.
Turkish officials claim that the PKK is responsible for the deaths of over 40,000 people in total, and are officially labeled a terrorist organization.
This is by no means the first big bust out of Turkey, a hotbed for drug trade. They have also busted guerrilla and terrorist groups for trading hashish and other drugs.
Meanwhile, alongside all these busts, Turkey still has a thriving cannabis industry. Although cannabis is not recreationally legal and laws are still fairly strict in the country, they have a large and successful medical and industrial cannabis market. Still, they have not moved past the process of destroying the cannabis they find in most cases.
“We destroyed cannabis in this country because of some enemies who were disguised as friends,” said President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in 2019.
Turkey is definitely still figuring out their cannabis industry, as they don’t have full legalization and are still dealing with the severe impact of an illicit market led by a listed terrorist organization. It remains to be seen if the country will bring more legal cannabis to the table anytime soon.