Turkish security forces detained 475 suspects in simultaneous nationwide counter-narcotics operations on Thursday. The Turkish National Police, Gendarmerie General Command and Coast Guard Command joined forces for the operations against drug dealers.
Apart from suspects' residences, squads raided several other locations like abandoned buildings and construction sites, troubled neighborhoods and parks to capture suspects. The Interior Ministry announced more than 35,000 officers joined the counter-narcotics operations, along with 437 police dogs, helicopters and boats. Along with suspects, police seized more than 8 kilos of cannabis and lesser amounts of other drugs in the operations.
Turkey, a transit country for drug smugglers working between Asia and Europe, is looking to curb domestic drug use. In 2014, the Turkish government launched "The Rapid Action Plan Against Drugs" to counter drug abuse and smuggling. Since then, Turkey has been fighting on multiple counternarcotics fronts. It targets addicts through better rehabilitation and awareness campaigns. It also targets smugglers and small-time dealers with more operations carried out by newly-formed "narco teams" that especially focus on operations around schools and other places where the youth, the most vulnerable targets for drug peddlers, go.
A report by Turkish National Police published in 2019 shows 206,314 suspects were detained in more than 144,000 drug-related cases between 2018. There is a 21% increase in the number of captured suspects, but the report says there is also an increase in the number of cases. The report says one-fifth of convicts in prisons were imprisoned in drug-related cases and their number slightly increased in 2018. There were more than 57,000 people jailed for drug cases last year while more than 103,000 others were released with judiciary control after they were detained in drug cases.