Turkish police arrest alleged crime boss Hakan Ayık. (Photo: Turkish Interior Ministry)

Turkey seized assets worth $2.8 billion in 10-month crackdown on criminal gangs

In a sweeping crackdown on international organized crime groups, the Turkish government confiscated assets totaling TL 92 billion ($2.8 billion) over the course of 10 months, the Birgün daily reported on Wednesday, citing data from the Interior Ministry.

According to the report, law enforcement officers conducted 1,187 operations targeting criminal gangs in the country between June 1, when the current Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya took office, and April 8.

A total of 8,052 people were detained in these operations, with 3,036 of the suspects arrested and 1,751 released under judicial supervision. The authorities seized 242 rifles, 5,970 pistols and 3,593 valuable papers.

In the past 10 months, 436 organized crime groups were dismantled, 117 of which were involved in drug-related offenses, with 13 of them identified as international crime syndicates. Among those criminals were Dutch drug lord Jos Leijdekkers and the Comanchero Motorcycle Club, an outlaw motorcycle gang based in Australia and Southeast Asia, in addition to Serbian, Croatian, Spanish and German drug smugglers.

The issue of foreign drug barons acquiring assets with illicit funds in Turkey has frequently come to public attention, with many of them applying for Turkish citizenship by purchasing apartments in residential towers in central Istanbul and villas in luxury compounds as well as mansions.

As a result of the operations, apartments in high-rise buildings, villas and mansions, company accounts and expensive watches and jewelry as well as luxury cars, including Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Porsches and custom-made Rolls-Royce and Bentleys, were confiscated, according to the daily.

Yerlikaya announced in late December that a court decision put 23 luxury cars, seized in several operations conducted by the İstanbul Police Department, into the service of law enforcement.

According to the report, the significant amount of assets seized through the Financial Crimes Investigation Board (MASAK) in the last 10 months is not only a testament to the success of recent operations but also sheds light on how deeply Turkey was involved in the mafia underworld in the past.

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