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Police, gendarmerie deal heavy blow to PKK's cigarette-smuggling activities.

ySTANBUL (CyHAN)- The number of cigarettes smuggled into Turkey by the terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) has increased by roughly 40 times in the past 10 years, while the police and gendarmerie have further strengthened their crackdown on smuggled tobacco, bringing the number of seized cigarette packs to more than 326 million over the same period.

The most frequent operations against smuggled cigarettes are staged in eastern Van and southeastern E[currency]anlyurfa provinces, according to police records.

The heavy blow dealt to the drug-smuggling activities of the PKK -- again by the police and gendarmerie -- has led the terrorist group to resort to illegally bringing cigarettes into Turkey. Smuggled cigarettes are a large source of income for the terrorist PKK. In Turkey, a pack of cigarette sells for a minimum of TL 5, whereas the price of smuggled cigarettes can be as low as TL 2. The smuggled packs of cigarettes are sold illegally on the streets.

Both the production and sale of cigarettes started to drop significantly in Turkey in 2010, and that decline extended through last year, data from the Tobacco and Alcohol Market Regulatory Agency (TAPDK) show.

However, people prefer to buy smuggled cigarettes because they are much cheaper.

According to latest available figures, the gendarmerie seized over 31.6 million packs of smuggled cigarettes in 2012. The police have not provided a figure for seized cigarettes for 2012, but the number of such packs seized by the police in 2011 was over 69.7 million. The gendarmerie seized over 39.6 million packets in 2011.

According to data from the Security Directorate General, over 32 percent of smuggled cigarettes are seized in operations in eastern provinces, while around 28 percent are seized in the Southeast and 7 percent in the Black Sea region. Around 12 percent are seized in the Mediterranean area. The remaining cigarettes are seized in the other three regions.

According to the World Customs Organization, the loss of taxes caused by cigarette smuggling is around $30 billion worldwide. Fifteen percent of cigarettes sold on the Turkish market, according to the organization, are smuggled.

(Cihan/Today's Zaman) CyHAN

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Publication:Cihan News Agency (CNA)
Date:Dec 17, 2012
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