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EU: PKK found to be active in drug-trafficking throughout Europe

PKK sympathisers' rally against Turkish President Tayyip Recep Erdogan in Bern, Switzerland on March 25, 2017 [Talha Celik/Twitter]
PKK sympathisers' rally against Turkish President Tayyip Recep Erdogan in Bern, Switzerland on March 25, 2017 [Talha Celik/Twitter]

The Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) has been found to be actively involved in and playing a role in drug-trafficking throughout Europe, a recently released report by the EU has revealed.

Citing the growing gang violence and the drug-related homicide endemic across Europe, the report by the EU drugs agency (EMCDDA) and the European Law Enforcement Agency (Europol) stated that “The PKK…has been reported to be involved in organized crime, with few examples of its engagement in the drug trade in the EU.”

The EU Drug Market Report detailed the drug trade’s links and ties to wider criminal activity such as human trafficking and terrorism, saying: “Organized crime may feed terrorism through a variety of channels, including supplying weapons, financing terrorist activities through drug distribution and infiltrating financial markets.”

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After over three decades of fighting against the PKK – a group aiming to establish a Marxist independent Kurdistan and designated as a terrorist group by Turkey, the US and the EU – within its borders, Turkey has stressed the group’s role in organised crime and drug trafficking. The Turkish National Drug Report of 2018 revealed that the PKK earns an annual profit of $1.5 million through trafficking drugs across the continent, primarily by taxing the substances as many other militant and terrorist groups around the world do in their drug trade.

The report also maintains the EU’s stance on the PKK as a terror group, citing that fact that experts distinguish such groups into two main types: jihadist religiously-inspired groups and ethno-nationalist/separatist groups. The PKK, which the report called “a paramilitary group based in the Middle East — primarily in south-eastern Turkey, northern Syria and northern Iraq,” is classed as the latter type.

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At the presentation of the report in Brussels, the European Commissioner for migration, home affairs and citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos stated: “Organized crime groups are quick to seize new opportunities for financial gain and are increasingly exploiting technological and logistical innovations to expand their activities across international borders.”

“At the same time, drugs are now more accessible to European consumers, often via social media and the internet.” Avramopoulos concluded that “Today’s report proves once again that the illicit drug market remains a threat to the health and security of our citizens,” pledging to continue to fight the trafficking and trade of drugs.

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