By Agnes Szucs
BRUSSELS (AA) - The terrorist group PKK plays an active role in continent-wide drug trafficking, a new European Union report said Tuesday.
The report by the EU drugs agency (EMCDDA) and the European Law Enforcement Agency (Europol) decried growing gang violence and drug-related homicide in Europe, and cited the terrorist PKK’s role in this.
“The PKK … has been reported to be involved in organized crime, with few examples of its engagement in the drug trade in the EU,” says the 260-page 2019 EU Drug Market Report.
The document explains the drug market’s links to wider criminal activities, human trafficking, and terrorism.
“Organized crime may feed terrorism through a variety of channels, including supplying weapons, financing terrorist activities through drug distribution and infiltrating financial markets,” it warns.
In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK -- listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the EU -- has been responsible for deaths of 40,000 people, including women, children and infants.
Turkey has stressed the PKK’s pivotal role in European drug trafficking and organized crime.
The PKK earns $1.5 billion from drug trafficking annually, said the Turkish National Drug Report for 2018.
- Separatist groups ‘tax’ drug trade
In Europe, two types of terrorist groups are distinguished by experts: jihadist terror groups, and ethno-nationalist, separatist terrorist groups. The PKK belongs to the latter, says the report, describing it as “a paramilitary group based in the Middle East -- primarily in south-eastern Turkey, northern Syria and northern Iraq.”
The report also classifies various groups from Northern Ireland as ethno-nationalist, separatist terrorist groups. These organizations are claimed to control or “tax” the drug trade, much like the Taliban in Afghanistan. Some can be described “hybrid criminal terrorist groups” for their links to organized criminality.
“Organized crime groups are quick to seize new opportunities for financial gain and are increasingly exploiting technological and logistical innovations to expand their activities across international borders,” Dimitris Avramopoulos, European commissioner for migration, home affairs and citizenship, said at the presentation of the report in Brussels.
“At the same time, drugs are now more accessible to European consumers, often via social media and the internet. Today’s report proves once again that the illicit drug market remains a threat to the health and security of our citizens,” he said, pledging to fight drugs in all its aspects.