Officials announced yesterday that 16 suspects were arrested in a recent operation targeting a gang smuggling drugs into Gulf countries.
The suspects were among 23 people detained in operations in eight provinces, after prosecutors in the southern province of Adana issued detention warrants on Oct. 19. In five separate seizures, counter-narcotics police confiscated more than 1.5 million Captagon pills worth about TL 22 million ($3.76 million).
The gang is accused of selling drugs both in Turkey and shipping them to Gulf countries including Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Qatar, Oman and Kuwait, as well as to Iraq and Iran. Police sources say they used air cargo shipment for smuggling and hid pills in boxes of pipes and air conditioning systems. The gang smuggled the pills from an unspecified country before shipping them to other countries.
Authorities have previously shown to the press a haul of 965,000 Captagon pills found in the cargo warehouse of Şakirpaşa Airport in Adana. The pills were going to be smuggled into Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia is one of the main markets for the drug, where they are commonly seized. According to a Reuters report, experts estimate that some 40 percent of drug users between the age of 12 and 22 in Saudi Arabia are addicted to Captagon, a pill commonly seized in operations in Turkey. In March, Istanbul police seized 320,000 Captagon pills bound for Saudi Arabia. Captagon, a synthetic drug made from the amphetamine fenethylline, is cheap to produce, and its composition includes widely available legal substances.