The number of public safety incidents reported in 2010 was 7 percent less than the number in 2009, according to a report released by the Gendarmerie General Command on April 15.
Although the overall rate of incidents threatening public safety has fallen, there has been an increase in Internet crimes and cigarette smuggling. Regardless, the general success rate of the gendarmerie command is remarkable and presents a striking contrast to the past when the institution faced accusations ranging from illegally hijacking phone lines to political engineering and categorizing various individuals according to their beliefs or ideology for later reference. A former gendarmerie general commander, Şener Eruygur, is in fact currently in prison as part of the investigation into Ergenekon, a gang that allegedly plotted to overthrow the government.
The 2010 report of the Gendarmerie General Command, which was also submitted to the National Security Council meeting held last week, illustrates that oil and sugar smuggling, once the most profitable two areas for smugglers, have been replaced by the illegal import of cigarettes, which was one of just two categories of crime that has posted an increase, as incidents of cigarette smuggling in 2010 increased by 200 percent.
Public safety incidents
In 2009, 286,460 public safety incidents occurred compared to 269,466 such incidents in 2010, a seven percent decrease mostly due to tight security measures in rural violation areas that were previously only loosely patrolled. This is the first time in the past five years that there has been a decrease in the number of public incidents in areas over which the gendarmerie has jurisdiction.
Last year, 99 percent of the 26,606 suspects in gendarmerie jurisdiction areas were captured, while only one percent managed to get away. Gendarmerie officers were able to solve 93 percent of the 269,526 recorded public safety incidents within the initial phases of the investigation. A significant majority of those that remained unsolved in the initial stages were solved later on in the year.
The highest number of public safety violations occurred in Antalya, a surprise as the general expectation in the Turkish public is that these would be the cities of eastern and southeastern Anatolia. Antalya was followed by İzmir, İstanbul, Bursa, Balıkesir, Adana, Muğla, Mersin, Hatay and Konya.
In gendarmerie jurisdiction areas there were 2,745 cases of narcotics smuggling reported in 2010, as 4,201 suspects were captured along with 38,982 kilograms of marijuana, 2,122 kilograms of heroin, 129 kilograms of hashish, 2.5 kilograms of cocaine, 20 kilograms of morphine and 108,280 pills with psychotropic content. Some of the illegal narcotics seized were being smuggled by the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK); 53 percent more marijuana was seized in 2010 in comparison with 2009, while the increase reported in heroine seized by the gendarmerie was 14 percent.
In Turkey where oil prices are above the world average, a serious decrease was recorded in oil smuggling incidents. In 2009, 2,634 oil smugglers were captured, compared to 2,372 in 2010. However, the amount of smuggled oil or fuel seized by the gendarmerie forces rose by seven percent.
Smugglers have been increasingly shifting to cigarette smuggling. A total of 9,417,265 packs brought into the country illegally were captured in 2009 along with 3,407 suspects in 2,367 raids. In 2010, the number of raids rose to 7,829 and of suspects to 10,205. A total of 30,189,616 packs were seized. The figures indicate a significant increase in the frequency of cigarette smuggling.
Weapons’ smuggling incidents decreased by 20 percent. In 2009, 1,811 long-range and 836 short-range weapons were seized compared to 258 long-range rifles (an 86 percent fall), and 494 short-range guns (41 percent less than in the previous year) were seized in 2010.
Incidents of crime defined as organized or gang crime by the law, also fell by three percent. However, there was a 103 percent increase in the number of Internet technology crimes. Eighty percent of such crimes involved bank and credit card fraud.
According to the report, 19,212 illegal immigrants were captured in 2009. This number dropped to 16,589 people in 2010, marking a 14 percent decrease. But the report also noted that there has been an influx of illegal migrants since early 2011 from Middle Eastern and North African countries suffering from inner turmoil. Two hundred forty-one people smugglers were captured with 48 victims being rescued by the gendarmerie in 2009. Only 94 smugglers were captured and 36 victims rescued in 2010 operations.
The gendarmerie report also indicated a shift in the terrorist PKK’s methods. The overall number of terrorist attacks decreased by 13 percent compared to 2009, but the number of gendarmerie soldiers killed or wounded by the PKK rose by 57 percent, mostly due to the PKK’s increasing use of remotely-controlled landmines as opposed to direct armed attacks on military outposts or clashes with security forces, as 94 soldiers were killed in terrorism incidents in gendarmerie controlled regions of Turkey in 2010, while 140 others were wounded.
The gendarmerie report also points to Turkey’s long-standing problem of overcrowding in jails, penitentiaries and detention centers. The government has been working on the issue, but Parliament hasn’t had the time to complete the enactment of the necessary legislation to improve the problem. There were 1623 incidents in Turkish prisons, up by 46 percent from 1,110 in 2009.
Ankara – Ercan Yavuz, TZ