Turkish criminal organisations now have a notable 20 percent share in the cocaine market of the Middle East, as revealed by an InSight Crime investigation.
Speaking to VOA Turkish, officials from InSight Crime explained that their interest in Turkey began with the allegations of well-known convicted Turkish mafia leader Sedat Peker’s involvement in cocaine shipments to Turkey and the Turkish government’s alleged connection to drug trafficking, alongside the United States ban on gold and oil trade with Venezuela. In response to these allegations, they deepened their research.
Alessandro Ford, the author of InSight Crime’s study, attributes Turkey’s increasing influence in transcontinental cocaine trade to a strategic shift by Turkish drug traffickers. Faced with declining opium prices, these traffickers have turned their attention towards cocaine. Ford explained that by leveraging Turkey’s well-established drug infrastructure, expertise in heroin trade, and connections with criminal organisations, they have successfully penetrated the cocaine market.
“Turkey provides excellent opportunities for cocaine trade due to its existing drug infrastructure, experience in heroin trade, and connections with criminal organisations. The only thing missing for the cocaine route was Latin America’s powdered sugar,” stated Ford.
While Turkish mafia groups benefit from the advantage of diaspora communities in Europe for drug distribution, Ford highlighted that the largest cocaine importer in Europe is the Ndrangheta mafia, based in Italy. He also mentioned that Turkish criminal organisations are contending with Spanish, Dutch, and Irish groups. InSight Crime’s research indicates that Turkish drug traffickers have a greater advantage and market share in the Middle East compared to Europe, controlling approximately 20 percent of the cocaine destined for the region.