PKK earns $1.5bn annually from drug trade, says Turkish interior minister

PKK earns $1.5bn annually from drug trade, says Turkish interior minister PKK earns $1.5bn annually from drug trade, says Turkish interior minister

Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu says the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militant group is annually earning more than a billion US dollars from drugs.

“The revenue [the] PKK earns from drugs annually is $1.5 billion ... [The] PKK is an organization [involved in] human smuggling and drug trafficking. Even the United States has confessed this reality in official reports,” Soylu said at an anti-narcotics event in Turkey’s southern province of Antalya.

He highlighted that drug trafficking and acts of terror went hand in hand with each other.

“Terror opens space for drugs and provides logistical facilities to it. Drugs, on the other hand, provide finances to terror,” Soylu said.

The Turkish interior minister said the 28-member European Union seized a total amount of 4.27 tons of heroin in 2016.

“The amount we seized alone in 2017 was 15 tons and 17.9 tons in 2018," Soylu pointed out.

Back in November last year, the Turkish interior minister said the PKK controlled 80 percent of the drug trade in Europe.

PKK militants regularly clash with Turkish forces in the Kurdish-dominated southeast of Turkey attached to northern Iraq.

Turkey, along with the EU and the US, has declared the PKK a terrorist group and blacklisted it. The militant group has been seeking an autonomous Kurdish region since 1984.

A shaky ceasefire between the PKK and the Turkish government collapsed in July 2015. Attacks on Turkish security forces have soared ever since.

Over the past few months, Turkish ground and air forces have been carrying out operations against PKK positions in the country as well as in northern Iraq and neighboring Syria.

More than 40,000 people have been killed during the three-decade conflict between Turkey and the autonomy-seeking militant group.

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