Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu directed the operation, which was held simultaneously in 7 provinces, from the Martyr Altuğ Verdi Operations Center of the General Directorate of Security, Anti-Smuggling and Organized Crime (KOM) Department.
Soylu, who was connected to some of the provinces where the operation was carried out by videoconference, received information about the illegal tobacco and tobacco products seized from the personnel working there. Deputy Chief of Police Resul Holoğlu, Head of KOM Department Mahmut Çorumlu and deputy heads of departments were also present at the operation center.
In a statement to the press later, Soylu emphasized that the Nefes Operation was initiated as a result of the long-term meticulous work of KOM units.
Stating that the share of smuggled cigarettes in the market has decreased from 22% to 2 percent, Soylu said that criminal organizations have turned to smuggling full and empty macarons and said, “The amount of smuggled cigarettes seized by our KOM units decreased from 2017 million packages in 42,6 to 2021 million packages by 3,8. ” said.
Stating that 6 million packs of smuggled cigarettes, 3,8 million empty macarons, 893 million filled macarons were seized in the first 290 months of this year, Soylu said, “At the same time, 192 tons of tobacco products and 252 thousand smuggled cigars were seized. A tax loss of 524 million Turkish liras related to the operations carried out so far has also been avoided. I'm just stating the numbers we gave about the operations this year.” he said.
8 Criminal Groups Detected
Noting that during the operations, studies were carried out to identify criminal groups that smuggled tobacco and tobacco products and macarons, Minister Soylu continued as follows:
“A study was carried out on these crime groups in all provinces by the Department of Combating Smuggling and Organized Crime, about 8 crime groups were identified, and as of this morning, a search decision was made at 8 addresses for these 615 crime groups and the people they work with. In coordination with our prosecutor's office, 214 people were taken into custody. Currently, an operation is planned to destroy these 7 criminal groups by raiding the addresses simultaneously in 8 provinces. This operation was carried out as a result of 6 months of follow-up and analysis, 8 criminal groups were deciphered and the supply and distribution chains of these criminal groups were revealed.
Minister Soylu emphasized that Operation Nefes is the first major planned operation against criminal groups operating in the field of tobacco product and macaron smuggling.
Stating that the number of operations against organized crime gangs, organized only by KOM, was 2017 in 274, this number increased to 2021 by the end of 767. Soylu said, “The number of suspects caught in these operations increased from 2017 thousand 2 in 107 to 2021 thousand 4 by the end of 978.” said.