Turkey: Vessel Carrying 13 Tons of Marijuana Stopped

Turkish authorities have captured a vessel carrying more than 13 tons of marijuana that was reportedly meant to be distributed to European countries, according to the state-run Anadolu Agency (AA) news portal.

AA reports that police said the Bolivian-flagged vessel was heading towards Turkey when it was captured off the coast of Libya, near the Tobruk port, late Tuesday. Authorities arrested the ten member crew, and prosecutors said they will launch a probe into the suspected drug-trafficking group.

According to the Hurriyet Daily News portal, the seizure was part of the “the Albatros Campaign” – Turkey's first security operation in international waters in years, authorised by the Ministry of Interior incooperation with the Bolivian government.

The operation was initiated after Turkish authorities received information about the drug ladened Bolivian vessel heading towards Turkey, and the Turkish Coast Guard reportedly located it on Sunday and started to pursue it with a plane and a ship.

AA reports that Interior Ministry officials said the vessel was carrying the largest amount of drugs ever seized in a single Turkish police operation - about 13.6 tons of marijuana.

Turkey continues to be a major trade center for a variety of illegal drugs destined for the European Market, according to the US State Department 2015 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report. The country has historically been a connection between East and West due to it's geographic location, and traffickers frequently use it as a transit country for goods headed into European markets.