Countries in Europe must do more to stop the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) “poisoning young people with drugs” across the continent, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said yesterday.
Telling members of the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party that Europe is the main target of the PKK’s drug trafficking operation during a session of parliament, Yildirim said: “I am calling our European friends to stop bothering themselves with Turkey’s legal processes and focus on fighting the PKK and drug runners who poison your youth and future with drugs. The main target of drugs is Europe and the young people of Europe.”
A Turkish Interior Ministry report released in June found that the PKK – which is listed as a terrorist organisation in the EU, the US and Turkey – is active in all stages drug trafficking, from the production of narcotics through to their sale on the street.
The study found the group makes nearly $1.7 billion (€1.53 billion) a year through its involvement in drug production and trafficking. It earns some $170 million from its trading in cannabis alone, and also produces heroin in its camps in northern Iraq, which its members sell on the streets of European countries.
Back in April, Europol’s 2016 EU Drug Markets Report revealed that the drug trade is helping to fund both terrorism and people smuggling in Europe. The study found that Europeans spend around €24 billion a year on illegal drugs, making the trade an attractive source of illicit income for both individuals and groups looking to fund terrorist activity.
“[T]he proximity of conflict zones, where terrorist groups are active, to established routes for drug trafficking and drug production areas, close to EU borders, means that the monitoring of developments in this area must be regarded as both strategically and operationally important,” the report concluded.
“So far, it appears that, in Europe, there are no systematic links between crime and terrorism, linkages being largely of the more limited operational type, with either temporary or more long-term alliances of convenience existing between organised crime groups and terrorist organisations.”
At the beginning of the year, it was reported that Daesh was flooding the UK with drugs after seizing control of a $4 billion Mafia cannabis farm in Albania. The jihadi group is said to have forced its way into the trade after the crime group behind the marijuana factory was severely disrupted in 2014.
Former military intelligence officer Dr Vladimir Pivovarov said at the time: “It is well known that Albania and other countries in the region have citizens joining ISIS.
“Western intelligence identified Balkan countries as the most active in providing recruits for jihad. The best recruits are from the Mafia. They are schooled in violence and the dirty money they make swells the jihadist coffers.”