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Venezuela drug connection resurfaces in Turkey

In April 2006, we wrote: "On April 11 2006, Mexican authorities seized 5.5 tonnes of high purity cocaine in Ciudad del Carmen's airport. On August 3 2005, Dutch tax authorities and the sea harbour police seized 4.6 tonnes of cocaine in Rotterdam, the largest ever haul in the Netherlands. On October 13 2005, Spanish police seized 3.5 tons of cocaine in a fishing boat bound for Spain. On September 16 2005, 691 kilograms of cocaine were seized in the Tuscan port of Livorno, Italy. On December 14 2004, 1.141 tonnes of cocaine were seized in two separate operations in Kenya, the largest ever seizure in Africa. On May 16 1999, a Saudi prince, Nayef bin Sultan bin Fawwaz Al-Shaalan, smuggled 1.993 tonnes of cocaine into Paris on his personal aircraft under diplomatic immunity. Aside from these major drug hauls, in most cases the greatest ever made in each of the countries, countless individuals have been arrested in European and North American airports for attempting to smuggle drugs. It is by no means coincidence that all the aforementioned cargos, huge or modest, originated in Venezuela; neither is it the periodicity of the apprehensions, which are in an ever augmenting curve."

Drug trafficking from Venezuela only got bigger after 2006. A report by the UN's Office on Drugs and Crime found cartels were using Venezuela as the preferred exit point for most of the drugs produced in the Andean region. West Africa became a hot spot: tons of cocaine were being flown in repurposed commercial planes, which were then destroyed / burnt. And it has only gotten worse more recently: a CNN investigative report claimed: "One US official estimated that in 2018 alone, 240 metric tons (265 tons for US readers) of cocaine crossed into Venezuela from Colombia to be flown out of the country. Other officials involved in combating the drug trade said that estimate was conservative."

Over the weekend, Turkish colleague and excellent source of information Yörük Işık alerted us to some interesting information. Ahval News reported: "Infamous Turkish mafia leader Sedat Peker, in a video released on Sunday morning local time, accused the son of a former prime minister of sitting on top of a cocaine trafficking ring from Venezuela to Turkey. Ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) heavyweight and former prime minister Binali Yıldırım’s son Erkan Yıldırım visited Venezuela to establish the new route in January and February this year, Peker alleged. According to the mobster, ships taking off from the port in Caracas stop in the Dominican Republic, where they are loaded with the illegal drugs. Peker warned that drug busts would soon begin in the Caribbean nation, referencing earlier busts in Colombia for cocaine shipments destined for Turkish ports."

Defenders of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Nicolas Maduro will come up with versions of it being a baseless and totally unsubstantiated report from an unreliable source. However, we think it is relevant to revisit recent events that, perhaps, have gone unnoticed or have been forgotten.

Venezuela has its own Sedat Peker version. He is called Walid Makled. We won't bother readers with Makled's track record. Suffice to say criminal activities' similarities between Turkey's drug lords and Makled are uncanny, including assassination of journalists attempts.

Had the narco nephews, that would be Cilia Flores and Nicolas Maduro's very own nephews, not had been arrested in a DEA sting operation in Haiti when trying to smuggle 800 kgs of cocaine into the U.S., Peker's claims could have been dismissed as unsubstantiated BS. However the narco nephews did get arrested, they did get recorded, bragging about how the haul would be shipped from the Presidential hangar in Maiquetia, Venezuela's main airport.

As per how secure Venezuela's main airport is regarding drug transit, 5.5 tons of cocaine were seized in Mexico once upon a time. Origin Maiquetia. Who guards Maiquetia? Venezuela's National Guard. Is it not a known fact that Venezuelan National Guard and Armed Forces are deep into drug trafficking? For there's a cartel, called Cartel de los Soles, formed by high ranking members of Venezuela's military. Diosdado Cabello sits right at the top of it. Cabello is the second most powerful chavista official in Venezuela. He has a few proxies, one of the favourites is Majed Khalil, who's invested in Turkey.

But let's go back to Maduro. Maduro's favourite is Alex Saab, a Colombian "businessman". Saab's partner since first appearance in Venezuela is German Rubio Salas, boss of Bogotá Cartel, convicted in Italy to 15 years (in absentia) for smuggling two tons of cocaine. Saab's conduit to get into Maduro's intimate circle of trust was Piedad Córdoba, the Colombian narcosenator linked to FARC.

Saab "made" his first fortune in Venezuela in construction. The second fortune he "made" in food imports, procuring all manner of foodstuffs to supply Venezuela's subsidised food provision program. Saab is also invested in Turkey. Historically, Venezuela has never been self sufficient in food production. Imports have always had to be made to supply local demand.

But now we hear that Erdogan approved imports of agricultural and dairy products from Venezuela into Turkey. The alleged visit of Erkam Yıldırım (DoB 26/08/1981, Turkish passport no U07839699) to Caracas took place mere months after Turkey's Official Gazette published Erdogan's decision (21 August 2020). 

No record of such imports from Venezuela in the last year could be found in Turkey's government statistics. Erdogan approved Venezuelan imports: up to 2,000 tons of oats, 1,000 tons of rice, 5,000 tons of sunflower seeds, 1,500 tons of cheese... We will go on record to state that Venezuela lacks spare agricultural produce capacity to export even one kilogram of oats, and we would like to challenge anyone reading this to produce a single piece of verifiable evidence to the contrary.

Did we mention that Saab is also invested in gold smuggling to Turkey, and "milk production" in Venezuela? Did we mention that Yildirin "made" money in a similar way, i.e. thanks to rampant nepotism? Did we mention that the route Istanbul - Maiquetia was established not long ago (thanks to Khalil's good auspices) and is presently one of the very few ways of getting to / from Venezuela? Did we mention that gold smuggling to Turkey, in which Saab, late Governor of Vargas State Jorge Garcia Carneiro*, Armando "Pelón" Capriles and Olivier Couriol were involved with, had Maiquetía as center of operations?

In our opinion, the alleged connection between Erkan Yıldırım and drug trafficking out of Venezuela is entirely believable. Yildirim travelled to Venezuela in late December 2020 as part of an official delegation of Turkish parliamentarians. A short while before that, Erdogan had approved of imports from a country that can't feed its own shrinking population, and whose top of officials have a demonstrable track record of involvement in drug trafficking.

*Maiquetía airport is located in Vargas State, where Garcia Carneiro was top thug for many years. Garcia Carneiro had his own gold mine, whose production was processed -according to sources- in the vicinity of Maiquetía airport for a quick turnaround to facilitate smuggling. Saab was / is a partner.

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