MESOP FLASH : Anti-drug drive against PKK ends in southeast Turkey

Turkey’s fight to deprive PKK extremists of drug money saw the army destroy 64 million cannabis plants and nearly 15,500 kilograms of the drug, the military announced Monday. The 12-day operation saw the army focus on the Lice, Hazro and Kocakoy districts of the southeastern province of Diyarbakir. Around 7,500 troops and police were involved in the operation and 305 suspects were arrested. More than 40 have been remanded in custody to face trial.

Five members of the security forces were martyred and seven injured, the General Staff said in a statement, and 14 extremists were killed in the operation. Weapons including assault rifles, a machine gun, rocket-propelled grenades, hand grenades and ammunition were confiscated.Dozens of improvised explosive devices were destroyed as well as 20 tons of ammonium nitrate used in their production.The security forces seized 22 vehicles that were to be used in car bomb attacks, the statement said. Roadblocks carried out during the operation resulted in 156 wanted individuals being arrested.

According to a recent report by Turkey’s Interior Ministry, the PKK earns around $170 million a year through cannabis production and a further $1.5 billion annually through smuggling other drugs, primarily heroin.