Turkish police seized 308 kilograms (679 pounds) of marijuana in an anti-narcotics operation in southeastern Diyarbakır province, authorities said Tuesday.
According to the Diyarbakır Governorate, several handguns were seized along with the narcotics during the operation in the Lice district.
The raid was part of Operation Yıldırım-7, which was launched on Aug. 26 to strike down the PKK terrorist group’s narcotics activities in the eastern parts of the country, the governorate said.
Two suspected drug traffickers were detained following the raid.
Active in the country since the 1980s, the PKK has targeted civilians, soldiers and police officers for decades, killing thousands of people. Its attacks are mainly focused on southeastern Turkey where it recruits militants as well.
In recent years, Turkey has stepped up its efforts to cut off the PKK from its drug business, which is believed to be the largest narcotics network in Europe. Interpol estimates that the PKK is responsible for up to 80% of the continent's illicit drug supplies.
In addition to trafficking between Europe and Asia, the terrorist group also uses several regions it controls in northern Iraq and Syria as production hubs for heroin and other drugs.
Lice, where the PKK was founded in 1978, has experienced numerous anti-drug raids in the past. It is a small district with a population of about 26,000 people, with a slow economy that is based on agriculture and livestock breeding. Today, it has drawn unfortunate fame by becoming a hub of PKK-controlled drug production.
Experts say Lice and the southeastern region are favored for the cultivation of cannabis because the climate is favorable and the mountainous terrain hinders easy access by security forces. Although no concrete numbers are available, authorities believe about two-thirds of the illegal drugs grown in Turkey come from the areas around Diyarbakır.
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