World Bulletin/News Desk
Istanbul Police Department launched 55 operations against drug abuse across the city and detained around 200 people in the last ten days, Istanbul Narcotic Branch Office said on Monday in a press conference.
The operations come shortly after the Turkish government unveiled a bill to tackle illegal drug use.
"In the last ten days, the police department launched 55 operations across Istanbul and detained over 200 people including 106 users and 97 drug peddlers," the department said.
According to the Narcotic Branch Office, the police seized 6 kilograms of marijuana, 677 grams of bonzai -- a form of synthesized marijuana which is classified as the most dangerous drug in the country -- more than 4,080 ecstasy tablets and 199 grams of cocaine.
"45 of the 200 people detained were arrested," the narcotic branch said.
Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and his government have pledged a stronger effort in the fight against drugs, including a blanket ban on underground intoxicants and chemical substances.
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said on Nov. 28 that his government is fully committed to eliminating the problem of drug use, addiction and trafficking by raising public awareness in all segments of Turkish society.
"The government will first plot a drugs map of Turkey and firstly handle the protective phase, with the aim of arousing interest and care within all sectors of society towards the drug problem," he said.
Back in October, Davutoglu explained his government's future attitude towards drug dealers as: "Those dealing drugs, including bonzai, will be treated like terrorists and the penalties will double if the crime is committed near schools."
Davutoglu’s comments come amid research and media reports claiming that use of the notorious drug is on the rise. A 2014 Turkish Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction report said that 75 percent of the drug’s users were unaware of bonzai’s adverse effects.
Nine out of ten users said that they would never have started taking bonzai if they had known about the drug’s side effects.
What is bonzai?
Experts say bonzai – which is generally smoked – is 100 times more dangerous than heroin. Users can experience changes in appetite and sleep patterns, difficulty in concentrating, hallucinations, unusual laziness, tremors and shakes.
When compared to drug abuse in other European countries, Turkey's overall rate is quite low, according to the 2014 report from the Turkish Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction.
Most bonzai users are males between the ages of 18 and 34, and Istanbul leads in bonzai-related arrests and incidents.
According to the same report, 89 percent of bonzai arrests occurred in Istanbul while 96 percent of the bonzai seizures were made in the Marmara region – a key transit point between Europe and Asia.
The same data also claimed that 92 percent of people detained in connection with the drug were detained for possession and only 7 percent were arrested for trafficking.
Güncelleme Tarihi: 22 Aralık 2014, 16:02