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Turkey Arrests N. Korean Diplomats on Drug Charges


Turkish authorities have detained two North Korean diplomats suspected of smuggling drugs into Turkey from neighboring Bulgaria.

Police say the diplomats were detained Sunday in a raid in Turkey's commercial capital Istanbul. Turkish officials say the diplomats, on assignment at North Korea's embassy in Bulgaria, which also covers Turkey, were carrying over half a million narcotic pills that were destined for Arab markets.

The diplomats were carrying the pills in a car they drove from Bulgaria to Turkey. The Turkish daily Milliyet carried a picture of the car which had diplomatic plates. The pills, commonly known as Captagon are used as aphrodisiacs.

They were estimated to have a street value of around seven million dollars. Two Turkish nationals accused of acting with the North Koreans were also arrested. Police say Sunday's arrests came after a six-month-long investigation.

Turkey is a major transit route for drugs carried both to Western and Middle Eastern markets. Police say, in separate raids Wednesday in Istanbul and the Mediterranean port city of Mersin, they seized over half a ton of heroin worth seven million dollars apparently destined for European markets.

Western drug enforcement officials say that up to 70 percent of all heroin sold in Western Europe is believed to originate in Afghanistan and is carried via Iran and Turkey.

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