Turkey’s government has warned that drug smuggling will not be tolerated after a seizure of cocaine from a Berge Bulk capesize.
Interior minister Ali Yerlikaya said that divers recovered nearly 52kg of the drug tied to the anchor chain of the 176,000-dwt Berge Torre (built 2011).
The bulker was anchored off the coast of Adana Yumurtalik in Iskenderun Bay at the time of the operation.
The Liberia-flag ship had left Puerto Bolivar in Colombia on 19 October.
Statements are being taken from 26 “suspicious persons”, including the captain, chief officers and other seafarers, the minister added.
Footage of the operation showed divers searching the propeller and anchor chain, and officers on board looking under hatches.
Officers are then shown opening bags of cocaine wrapped in blue plastic.
“I want our dear nation to know that we will not tolerate poison dealers. Our ports are being closely monitored,” Yerlikaya said on X.
He added that the General Directorate of Security’s anti-narcotics department had seized 45 packages in two durable plastic bags.
“I congratulate our police, coast guard and Mersin customs enforcement teams who carried out the operation. I kiss your eyes. May God not let stones touch your feet,” the minister said.
Operations being stepped up
“Our operations against poison merchants all around our country will continue increasingly.”
AIS shows the Berge Torre anchored off Ceyhan on Wednesday morning.
Since Yerlikaya became interior minister in June, police operations against drug smugglers have been stepped up, according to the Turkish Minute website.
Berge Bulk told TradeWinds it was assisting local authorities and law enforcement agencies in Turkey with investigations into “suspected contraband found in the chain locker of its bulk carrier Berge Torre.”
The seizure was made during discharge operations on 12 November at the port of Iskenderun, the owner added.
“We are working closely with all relevant parties, including the vessel’s third-party ship manager, to provide the necessary support to the crew, who are fully cooperating with the authorities’ investigations,” the company said.
“As investigations are ongoing, we are unable to provide further information at this juncture,” it added.