Turkey at centre of two-way drug corridor – deputy PM

Turkey seizes more drugs than the whole of Europe, and the traditional heroin trafficking from east to west has been joined by a synthetic drugs route from west to east, Chinese news agency Xinhua quoted Deputy Prime Minister Recep Akdağ as saying.

"There is another trafficking route which starts from the Netherlands, partly from Belgium and Austria and is targeting Turkey," Akdağ said, calling on Europe to do more to stop drug trafficking.

"These substances, which are used by young people who end up in a sorry state on the streets, are manufactured in the Netherlands, Belgium or Austria and partially in Poland.”

The mortality rate from these synthetic drugs, known in Turkish as bonsai because some were initially sold legally as specialist plant fertiliser, have created a moral panic in a country where drug use is less widespread than in the West.

"It's even more terrible in the east (of Turkey). Drugs have even made their way to small villages in rural areas where kids aged nine or 10 are using it," Fatih Yüzügüler, a former addict, told Xinhua.

It has also made inroads into conservative and lower-income families despite drugs being an especially important issue on the police agenda: the Turkish government believe that much drug revenue benefits the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), an armed Kurdish group that is waging a bloody conflict in the country’s southeast.

Turkey detained 47,213 people in 2017 for drug offences, Akdağ said.