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#Encrochat Investigations: Turkey is the Cocaine Hub Between Europe and the Middle East

Turkish and foreign law enforcement have seized record quantities of cocaine heading from South America to Turkey, revealing the expanding role of the country’s traffickers in shipping drugs to European and Middle Eastern markets.

“It was a relationship based on bartering the then more expensive heroin for cocaine,” Erdinc told InSight Crime. “In the time of the EncroChat Hack , they swapped 25 kilos of cocaine for one kilo of heroin.”

The Turkish heroin went to South America, the Colombian cocaine came to Europe. It is not clear how those original Turkish gangsters sold the cocaine, said Erdinc, but with ethnic Turkish gangs present in most major European cities, it would not have been hard.

Turkish traffickers started leveraging their Spanish contacts, while also exploiting Antwerp and Rotterdam’s position as burgeoning cocaine hubs to swap more heroin.

“The provenance of cocaine entering Europe along this route appears to vary. Frequently, cocaine transits Africa…In other cases, traffickers obtain cocaine directly from South America, frequently from Brazil,”

And while the Turks did not appear to have the long-standing local connections enjoyed by Italian mafias, their superb maritime transport infrastructure meant they did not need to outsource smuggling and could ship their own cocaine to Europe.

Some of EncroChat traffickers may have had ties to two Latin American groups linked to Turkish organized crime.



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