US says Turkey’s bonsai consumption spiked 200 percent last year

The United States has said in a new report that Turkey’s consumption of bonsai, or synthetic cannabinoid, surged a staggering 200 percent last year The US State Department’s “2015 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report” noted that Turkey remains a significant transit country for illicit drugs destined for European markets and that Turkish law enforcement authorities seized significant volumes of heroin and other opiates originating from

The United States has said in a new report that Turkeyand#39s consumption of bonsai, or synthetic cannabinoid, surged a staggering 200 percent last year

The US State Departmentand#39s andldquo2015 International Narcotics Control Strategy Reportandrdquo noted that Turkey remains a significant transit country for illicit drugs destined for European markets and that Turkish law enforcement authorities seized significant volumes of heroin and other opiates originating from Southwest Asia in 2014, along with large quantities of cannabis products.

New psychoactive substances including synthetic cannabis — known locally as andldquobonsaiandrdquo — and synthetic cathinones (andldquobath saltsandrdquo) are becoming more widespread in large urban areas such as Istanbul, the report said.

However, it also reported that the availability and use of methamphetamine and amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS) appeared to decline significantly in 2014.

According to the report, between January and October of 2014 Turkish authorities seized approximately 873 metric tonnes (MT) of heroin, a 92 percent increase from the pace of seizures over the same period in 2013.

The volume of hashish that was seized during this period (67.26 MT) decreased substantially from 2013 (approximately 133 MT), and seizures of methamphetamine plunged by over 52 percent (46 kilograms from 96.

5 kilograms). Fenethylline seizures fell even more dramatically, from over 43 million pills in 2013 to nearly 140,000.

However, seizures of other synthetic drugs, particularly bonsai, sharply increased to 504.3 kilograms — a more than 200 percent spike from 2013 the report noted.

Last year, a Turkish opposition lawmaker said in Parliament that a total of 44 kilograms of bonsai were seized by the police in 2011, 289 kilograms in 2012 and 350 kilograms in 2013.

According to a police report published last year, there are now some 400 varieties of bonsai found in Turkey.

It further warned that deaths resulting from the use of bonsai could increase in the near future. More than 300 people have died as a result of using bonsai to date.

Bonsai is an entirely chemical substance that can cause a rapid increase in blood pressure and heart rate, severe dry mouth, hallucinations, a feeling of hunger, memory loss, temporary blindness and temporary paralysis.

The narcotics report indicated that Turkey is located along well-established trafficking routes from Afghanistan through Iran and onward through the Balkans, Black Sea and eastern Mediterranean region.

Most heroin trafficked via Turkey is marketed in Western Europe where Turkish-based traffickers control much of the heroin market. Some criminal elements in Turkey reportedly have interests in heroin laboratories operating in Iran near Turkeyand#39s border

It further added that Turkey acts as a transit route for opium and heroin smuggled overland from Afghanistan primarily via Iran but also through Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan and Georgia en route to Western Europe.

While the Balkan route into Western Europe remains heavily used, traffickers also use the more northerly route through Azerbaijan, Georgia, Russia and Ukraine.

Many major drug traffickers in Turkey are ethnic Kurds or Iranians according to the report.

Citing Turkish police data, it noted that approximately one out of every three people arrested for drug trafficking in 2014 were of Iranian nationality with the rest being Turkish nationals.

The report also stated that Turkish law enforcement agencies remain andquotstrongly committedandquot to disrupting illicit drug trafficking, stressing that the US will continue to work with Turkish law enforcement agencies to strengthen Turkeyand#39s ability to combat drug trafficking, money-laundering and other financial crimes, as well as reduce the flow of Afghan heroin to international markets.

andquotThe United States will also continue to support Turkeyand#39s work as a regional leader in counter-narcotics training and education,andquot the report concluded.

Turkish-organized crime groups in Germany that continue to dominate the drug trade with cannabis, cocaine and heroin making up the bulk of drugs smuggled into and through Germany were also mentioned.

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SOURCE: Today’s Zaman