Teams from the Turkish narcotics police have seized 52 kilograms of cocaine on a dry cargo ship in the Gulf of İskenderun off the coast of Adana, Turkey’s Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya announced on Tuesday.
Twenty-six suspects on board the Liberian-flagged Berge Torre, including its captain and first officer, have been detained in connection with the incident, Yerlikaya announced on X, formerly known as Twitter.
According to the minister, the cocaine was found in 45 packages secreted within the anchor housing.
NARKOGÜÇ Operasyonları kapsamında İskenderun Körfezin Adana Yumurtalık açıklarında demirleyen Liberya bandıralı BERGE TORRE isimli Kuru Yük Gemisinde 5⃣1⃣ Kilo 7⃣5⃣0⃣ Gr Kokain ele geçirildi.
Gemi kaptanı, kaptan yardımcıları ve mürettebattan oluşan 2⃣6⃣ şüpheli şahsın… pic.twitter.com/A1QXnrSqV8
— Ali Yerlikaya (@AliYerlikaya) November 14, 2023
Since Yerlikaya was appointed interior minister in a new cabinet announced in June, replacing Süleyman Soylu, police operations targeting crime gangs and drug traffickers have gained momentum.
During Soylu’s tenure Turkey faced allegations of involvement in international drug trafficking, primarily driven by Turkish mob boss Sedat Peker. In a series of dramatic videos in 2021, Peker accused Soylu and other high-ranking officials of protecting and facilitating cocaine trafficking networks.
An extensive operation by Turkish law enforcement against an international cocaine smuggling ring that resulted in the detention of 23 suspects and the seizure of assets exceeding 1 billion Turkish lira in June has thrust Turkey’s perceived involvement in the global drug trade into the spotlight, leading to conjecture about the impact of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s cabinet shakeup.
Data from a 2023 United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) report underscored Turkey’s rising prominence as a transit country for illicit drugs, particularly cocaine. The report revealed a sevenfold surge in drug seizures in Turkey since 2014, paralleling a 35 percent global increase in coca bush cultivation between 2021 and 2022. Drug seizures in Turkey reached a record high of 2.8 tons in 2021.