A large amount of PKK drugs was found on Sunday by the Turkish military during the operation to clear Barsaya Mountain of the terrorist organization's Syrian affiliate, the Democratic Union Party's (PYD) People's Protection Units (YPG), exposing more proof of the terrorist organization's relations with drugs and drug money.
Although various drugs were found, the most common was the drug Captagon, also known as "chemical courage." Captagon was first found during Operation Euphrates Shield and is recommended for militias by the PKK and the YPG because it will keep them awake and prevent tiredness. Captagon is one of the biggest income resources for the terrorist organization.
Despite allegations from the Syrian regime, often claiming that Captagon and similar drugs are used by the Syrian opposition, the drugs were found on regime soldiers in 2015 when the Syrian opposition took over control of Idlib from regime forces.
The PKK is known for drug trafficking as one of its main sources of income. To prevent PKK drug trafficking, Turkey has been conducting anti-narcotics operations along with counterterrorism operations on the PKK for years.
In August, during anti-narcotics operations in the southeastern province of Kilis near the Syrian border, 12 million Captagon pills worth $250 million were seized by security forces. It was also revealed that the PKK sells the pills for TL 5 ($1.25) in Turkey, and TL 20 when they reach Africa.
It is also suggested that the PKK, along with the PYD and the YPG shifted strategy and began to produce drugs that are easy to carry instead of cigarettes after a wall was erected on the Turkish-Syrian border and border crossing became difficult.
In October, Turkish security forces seized almost 2 tons of PKK cannabis. Police arrested two suspects and seized 7,756 cannabis plants, 911.7 kilograms of hashish and 126 kilograms of powdered cannabis in field scans and raids conducted in Diyarbakır province. From 2016 to 2017, 81.1 tons of powdered cannabis, 61.1 tons of hashish and more than 80 million cannabis plants were seized and destroyed in Diyarbakır, a major cannabis production area in Turkey. The market value of the drugs is estimated to be TL 25.9 billion.
The PKK traffics drugs in Turkey, Syria and Africa. Its drug rings are also quite active in Europe. In September, Belgian police apprehended a network distributing drugs to half of Europe and funneling the money to the PKK in simultaneous operations in Belgium and Austria. The network, which is centered in the Flemish town of Hasselt, transferred the drugs through the Belgian and Dutch ports of Antwerp and Rotterdam. A report in the Het Belang van Limburg newspaper said that the network had managed to collect millions of euros from heroin alone, which they then funneled to the PKK.