Counter-narcotics police in Istanbul announced on Friday that 1.2 tons of the drug "skunk" and 550,000 ecstasy pills were seized in operations in the three districts of the city on April 20 and April 29. Seven suspects, including two Albanian nationals, were detained in connection with the drug bust.
Police said the operation was launched based on intelligence that a gang with international connections would sell a large stash of drugs smuggled from abroad. In searches of multiple locations in Bakırköy, Küçükçekmece and Eyüpsultan districts, the drugs were discovered. Skunk is a genetically modified or hybrid strain of cannabis and named as such for its strong smell. This new drug has been gradually replacing bonzai, a readily available synthetic drug that spread across Turkey over the past five years.
Bonzai use has declined but skunk, marketed as "organic" by peddlers, is viewed as an effective replacement. The drug is far more harmful than standard cannabis, experts say. Its source is disputed, though it is believed to have been first developed in the U.S. before it was brought to the Netherlands, the weed capital of Europe. Like cannabis, it can be grown indoors with special lighting and in temperature-controlled rooms. Last month, 450 kilograms of skunk were seized in a truck that entered Turkey from Greece and a Kosovar suspect was detained.