V. The PKK'S Role in International Drug Trafficking


Drug trafficking Is one of the major avenues used by terrorist organizations to raise funds for weapons systems and to launder money for so-called legitimate businesses. The PKK is no exception. Since its establishment, the PKK has been using drug profits to fund Its campaign of terror. After the military coup of 1980 in Turkey, many terrorists, including members of the PKK, began to immigrate to Europe. This gradually created a supply of human capital for the PKK to use in the continent.

Turkey has historically remained a key transshipment point for drug trafficking because of its desirable geographic location connecting Europe to Asia. In 1994, European narcotics specialists contended that 60-70% of Europe's heroin was passing through Istanbul. In addition, Tuncay Yilmaz, leader of the anti-narcotics unit of the Turkish National Police in Ankara, maintains that the PKK plays the dominant role In Turkey's narcotics smuggling industry. Most of the heroin coming from Afghanistan, Iran, and Pakistan pass through Turkey and head toward Western Europe. Several sources maintain that smuggling operations were partly controlled by Iranian nationals who escaped to Turkey after the 1979 revolution in Iran. Finally, police In Italy, Holland, Germany, and Scandinavia have been investigating and uncovering the PKK's Involvement In drug and arms smuggling In those nations since 1993.

Trends In police seizures of heroin and other drugs within Turkey Illustrate the significance of the drug trafficking problem. For example, heroin seizures In Turkey increased from 1,894 lb. In 1990 to 1.6 tons in 1994. Other areas of drug tracking have been marked by similar gains. During 1993-1994, an average of 21 tons of hashish were seized annually m addition to 2.7 tons of morphine. These figures are significant In light of the PKK's use of narcotics for supporting its campaign of terror.

Turkish officials allude to a possible connection between drug smuggling and the PKK as another component of the Illegal drug network, a theory disregarded by those who would prefer to rule out the possibility of an ideological motive. Some European intelligence officers blame Turkey for attempting to associate drug smuggling month the PKK in order to support a negative image of the group. In addition, others claim that there is no evidence to prove that the PKK or any other Turkish organization has been funded by drug smudging.

However, there is evidence inking the PKK to drug smuggling m Europe that is strong enough to force these officials to reconsider they position concerning the group's connection to illegal drugs. Fuss, a report prepared by the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) in 1992 linked the PKK to drug and concluded that nearly 178 Kurdish organizations were suspected of illegal drug trade involvement. Second, INTERPOL's chief narcotics officer Iqbal Hussain Rizvi stated that the PKK was also heavily evolved m drug trafficking as a means to support the Kurdish revolt in Turkey. Rizvi further specified the routes for the Illegal drugs confirming that Kurdish areas were sites for heroin refining factories. Third, in 1994 Germany's Chief Prosecutor maintained that 80"/o of the drugs seized in Europe were linked to the PKK and that money acquired through illegal drug trafficking was used to purchase arms. Furthermore, the Italian police also acknowledged the existence of a PKK team conducting transportation of heroin to Italy and arms to Turkey. Fourth, admissions by some of the individuals arrested for drug dealing confirm the PKK role in this illicit money-producing business. For example, a Kurdish smuggler caught in 1991 admitted to transporting 300 kilograms of heroin for the PKK over a three-year period during the late 1980s.

These incidents strongly indicate the PKK's Involvement in illegal drug trafficking and link the group to drug trading as early as 1984 (the same year the PKK officially started its separatist terrorism). Not only Is the PKK involved in the transportation of Illegal drugs, but over the years, it has also extended its role into production and marketing as well. In short, the PKK has grown into a full-service business coordinating the production, use, and transportation of Illegal drugs, particularly in Western Europe.

According to a report by the British National Service of Criminal intelligence, the PKK acquired about $75 million from drug smuggling In Europe In 1993. Further, in 1994 PKK members were arrested by Turkish authorities while attempting to smuggle 1.5 tons of hashish Into Turkey from one of Turkey's neighboring countries.

Due to its extensive drug smuggling operations, the PKK has remained well-armed. In 1994 alone, Turkish security forces seized from the PKK a total of 3,075 weapons and various instruments including 767,000'rounds of ammunition; 399 rocket launchers; 3,419 rockets; 4,415 hand grenades; 31 mortars;1,964 mortar bombs; and 131 radios.


The Workers' Party of Kurdistan (PKK)
Ministry of Foreign Affairs - Turkey