Turkish police arrested more than 200 suspects in a massive operation against organized crime and smuggling groups that spanned more than 20 of the country’s 80 provinces, the state agency said. Anadolu Agency reported.
From Izmir on the Aegean coast of Turkey to the province of Hatay on the border with Syria, the raids were aimed at reducing organized crime groups of the mafia type which, in many neighborhoods and villages, are considered to parallel the power of the state.
Measures have been taken “against organized criminal groups of the Mafia type who attempt to prove themselves superior to the powers of the state by using the methods of pressure, coercion, threat and violence…”, the ministry said. Turkish Interior in a statement.
The operation, the second of its kind, was dubbed Musilaj, which means “Sea Snot” in English, and specifically focused on coastal regions where tourism is the main industry.
In Izmir, Turkey’s third most populous city, 18 people were arrested as members of the Camgöz and Beldekler gangs, Turkish daily Cumhurriyet reported.
The Beldekler gang was known to engage in loan sharking, while Camgöz had engaged in extortion and even murder according to the newspaper.
In Balikesir, another Turkish town just south of Istanbul and Bursa on the Sea of Marmara, another 21 suspects were arrested, Hurriyet reported.
Overall, Turkish authorities have identified 17 gangs operating across the country and 27 other groups that allegedly supplied them with weapons.
During the operation, authorities recovered more than 3,000 counterfeit US dollar bills, significant amounts of heroin, synthetic drugs, marijuana, methamphetamines and other illicit substances.
Police also recovered some 105 pistols, 34 rifles, six long-barreled shotguns, 4,159 rounds of ammunition, 16 knives as well as several gun parts and ballistic vests.