PKK´s Involvement in Drug Trafficking

The 1992 annual report of the United States Department of State Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement, entitled “The International Narcotics Control Strategy” (INCS) proposes that the European drug cartel is controlled by PKK members. Likewise, the 1996 INCS report underlines the fact that the terrorist PKK uses heroin production and trafficking to support its acts of terror. The 1998 report, pointing to persistent reports of PKK’s involvement in narcotics trafficking through Turkey, reiterates that the PKK not only uses “taxes” extracted from narcotics traffickers and refiners to finance its operations, but “may be more directly involved in transporting and marketing narcotics in Europe” as well.

A 1995 report prepared by the Drug Enforcement Agency of the US Department of Justice emphasizes that the PKK is engaged in drug trafficking and money laundering activities and is well-established in the production of almost all kinds of opium products and their smuggling. The revenues from these activities, the report continues, are used for purchasing firearms, munitions and other equipment used by the terrorists. The report cites other sources of revenue of the PKK as extortion, robbery and counterfeiting.

In “Political Violence and Narco-Trafficking”, a booklet published by the Paris Institute of Criminology in October 1996, PKK’s narcotics network and its functioning are detailed; the amount of narcotics captured by the European security forces are quoted; and the PKK’s role in drug trafficking is thus documented.

The involvement of the PKK in all stages of drug trafficking has been further documented in a conference held by Dr. François Haut of the Paris Institute of Criminology in Brussels on 25 April 1997. It is stated that the PKK is engaged in producing, refining and marketing of drugs and has contacts in numerous countries. The PKK’s “turnover” from drug trafficking is estimated at “millions of US dollars”. Dr. Haut notes that the problem of narcotics trafficking has entered the Parisian suburbs thanks to the PKK, which he thinks is responsible for 10 to 80 percent of the heroin smuggled to Paris. Similarly, a 1996 report prepared by Jean Claude Salomon, François Haut and Jean-Luc Vannier for the Paris Institute of Criminology, utilizing such reliable and impartial sources as the Interpol, British NCIS and the national police agencies of the EU member states, notes that the narcotics route that runs through Turkey to the Balkans and western Europe benefits the “separatist” organizations of Turkish/Kurdish origin and the PKK militants and their intermediaries.

The March 1997 issue of “The Geopolitical Drug Dispatch,” a monthly report prepared by the ” Observatoire Geopolitique Des Drogues” points to the role of the PKK in the smuggling of drugs through the “Balkan route” and emphasizes that the terrorist organization has started using Romania and Moldavia, positioned along this route, as its rearward bases. The report also states that the Turkish traffickers arrested in these countries are of Kurdish origin and thus that many criminal activities attributed to Turkish individuals or groups “are in fact carried on by Kurds, usually with links to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).” The report continues to point out that the PKK often hides behind its umbrella organizations, such as the ERNK and business, youth and women’s associations. To illustrate, it is noted in the report that “the ERNK business group in Romania, called the Association of Eastern Businessmen, is an excellent cover for the illicit activities of the PKK which has tight control over the drug deals as the local PKK leader also heads the ERNK.”

Last but not least, the final report of the thirty-third session of the Sub-commission on Illicit Drug Traffic and Related Matters in the Near and Middle East, held under the auspices of the UN International Drug Control Program (UNDCP) in Beirut from 29 June to 3 July 1998, noted that “there were clear linkages between some narco-terrorist organizations, for example, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), and other organized transnational criminal groups.”

Turkey’s position astride the “Balkan route” makes it a significant transit point for narcotics. Using this route, the PKK smuggles morphine base and heroin from Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan into Turkey across Turkey’s eastern borders. Since the late-1980s, the terrorist organization has, instead of trafficking externally-produced heroin, opted for a more profitable way of producing heroin from non-heroin opiates. To this end, the PKK refines base morphine into heroin in mobile laboratories near Istanbul and in the southeastern parts of Anatolia. The PKK also cultivates opium and cannabis in the Bekaa valley (Lebanon) and in the isolated regions of southeastern Anatolia and northern Iraq.

Narcotics smuggling therefore constitutes a major part of the PKK’s financial apparatus, alongside extortion, blackmailing, robbery, arms smuggling and illicit labor trafficking. The PKK is actively involved in all phases of narcotics trafficking, from the producing and processing of the drugs to their smuggling and marketing. The revenues gained from illicit drug dealings and marketing are channeled to funding its arms purchases, which is required to sustain its terrorist activities.

PKK’s involvement in narcotics trafficking is thus now well-documented. Below there are some further examples compiled from the reports of the foreign media and foreign or Turkish security authorities which conclusively indicate PKK’s role in drug trafficking.