Letter to The New York Times, November 15, 1997

November 15, 1997

Letters to the Editor
The New York Times
229 West 43rd Street
New York, NY 10036-3959

To the Editor:

Your failure to cite Turkey in your November 11th World News Brief as one of the world’s most prolific drug dealing states is almost as disturbing as the Clinton Administration’s omission of Turkey from its "major drug trafficking nations" list.

Whereas the Turkish Government is often criticized for its widespread human rights abuses and its illegal occupation of Cyprus, Turkey’s dominant role in international drug trafficking goes largely ignored. It is estimated, for example, that up to 90% of Great Britain’s heroin comes from Turkey and northern Cyprus; investigations by the Bank of England led to the closure of at least one Turkish bank last year for laundering drug money.

What makes the Turkish drug trade so insidious however is that the Turkish Government itself is implicated in the trafficking. A July 27th exposé in a London newspaper, The Observer, maintained that "the heroin sold in Britain is now supplied by a small group of Turkish gangs with links to some of their country’s most powerful politicians."

A judge in Germany recently found "close connections of Turkish heroin dealers to the Turkish government" and reported to the German Parliament "incriminating findings" against former Turkish Prime Minister Tansu Ciller linking her to two drug gangs. An investigation has even been initiated in Turkey regarding charges that Ciller’s husband used a family firm as a base for drug smuggling. The Observer exposé further cited allegations "that drug related corruption reached right to the top of Turkey’s political elite and that Ciller and her businessman husband Ozer are deeply implicated."

Worse yet, after extensive successes in Europe Turkish drug traffickers are now trying to break into the highly lucrative US market. After serving five years for drug smuggling in Germany, David Nevzat Telliagaoglu attempted to mastermind an extensive drug ring arranging for the supply of large amounts of Turkish heroin to the US in exchange for Colombian cocaine to the UK. The effort failed and his eventual arrest last year led to a 25-year sentence.

Given the havoc drugs are wreaking on our economy, our families, our children and even our national security, what message is the present administration sending when it so readily shelters a government whose highest officials are involved in dealing drugs on such a widespread scale? If we do not send a clearer message to the Turks soon, there will no doubt be a hundred others to take Mr. Telliagaoglu’s place.

Very truly yours,

P. D. Spyropoulos, Esq.

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