Police bust international drug ring led by 'Turkish Escobar'

Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya has announced the detention of 42 suspects linked to notorious drug dealer Ürfi Çetinkaya, widely known as the "Turkish Escobar."

The operation, which spanned nine provinces, was a result of a two-year joint effort against the armed organized crime group, Yerlikaya said in an X post on Feb. 20.

Coordinated efforts were made in collaboration with 11 countries, including Germany, the Netherlands, Spain and Greece. According to the minister, the suspects were implicated in the trafficking of a staggering 13 tons of drugs confiscated in various European countries, as well as an additional 24 tons seized within Türkiye.

Among the apprehended individuals was a suspect sought by Interpol with a red bulletin.

Notably, Ürfi Çetinkaya has a long history with the law. He was initially listed as "wanted" during the 1980 military coup. In 1989, he was apprehended during a raid on a farmhouse in Istanbul's Silivri district. Despite his arrest, he was released after six months. Subsequent arrests occurred in 2000 and later in 2012, but he was released for health reasons.

Last year, Çetinkaya, who faces a red bulletin for drug trafficking and holds a finalized prison sentence of 24 years, was finally captured in an operation conducted at an address in Sarıyer.

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