Twenty-three tons of marijuana have been seized in Diyarbakır province, the largest amount of drugs confiscated in a single operation in the nation's history.
The operation was recently launched in the district of Lice and led to the seizure of 23 tons of marijuana stored in large containers. A reported 10.5 tons of marijuana had been seized in a previous operation launched at the same spot on Sept. 14.
The operation was conducted by the Diyarbakır Police Department's anti-smuggling and organized crime and gendarmerie teams. Since the target of the operation was a region of high terrorist activity, the operation was carried out backed by air support. After cordoning off the area, 24 teams raided seven addresses.
According to police reports, the drug traffickers had packed the drugs -- which they aimed to sell in the winter -- and put the packages in containers to be buried in the ground.
The seized drugs, reportedly worth TL 6 million, were taken to the Diyarbakır Police Department's storage area by trucks.
The operation comes as a slap in the face for drug traffickers and marks a record for the largest amount of drugs confiscated in Turkey.
Briefing reporters about the drug seizure in Diyarbakır, the governor of the province, Cahit Kıraç, said that 198 operations had been launched since May and 47,893,000 cannabis sativa plants had been destroyed, an amount equal to 16,309 kilograms of marijuana. “The operation was carried out in a field of 5,000 hectares, and 516 suspects were detained,” Kıraç said.
Kıraç also said that security forces will continue to fight drug cultivation and trade, adding that local people should cooperate with the police to help them succeed. “Drug cultivation here is huge. It harms the reputation of Diyarbakır and it is time to say 'stop' to this unpleasant situation in the province. Intervening here is a human duty,” Kıraç said.
Kıraç also said that the settlement process with the terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) has aided drug seizure operations in Diyarbakır, a province with a majority Kurdish population. “[With the settlement process] the security forces are back to their duty of stopping those people involved in crime. The police is doing its utmost to perform its duties before people are involved in a crime,” Kıraç said. Speaking on the importance of solidarity between security forces and the people, Kıraç said, “As long as our people do not support our operations, we cannot achieve any success.”