ISTANBUL - Turkish Daily News
The armed attack in front of the American Consulate in Istanbul took place at a time when high-level U.S. drug enforcement agents were in town to attend the 26th International Drug Enforcement Conference, bringing together top law enforcement officials from 91 countries.
When the attack took place at around 10:30 a.m. yesterday, Michele Leonhart, the Drug Enforcement Agency's, or DEA, acting administrator; Scott Burns, deputy director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy; and Mark Destito, the DEA's Regional Director based in Ankara were briefing a group of journalists at the conference venue in the Conrad Hotel in Beşiktaş district, 10 kilometers from İstinye, where the consulate moved a few years ago.
The news of the attack, which left three Turkish police officers dead, sent shock waves through the U.S. agents who organized the conference with the Directorate of the Turkish Police.
During the press briefing, which likely began around when the 15-minute gunfight between the Turkish police and the assailants started, Turkish law enforcement officials were praised for their success in intercepting drug trafficking passing through Turkey.
�Turkey seized 15 to 16 percent of the heroin coming from Afghanistan. Turkey has done such a good job that drug smugglers have started to take a different route rather than the Balkan route, which is the primary corridor for Afghan-produced drugs to reach Europe. The anchor point for the Balkan Route is Turkey, which remains a major staging area and transportation route for heroin destined for European markets,� said the Interpol Web site.
�Turkish authorities need to be recognized because they have put so much pressure on the drug lords that they started to change methods and routes,� said Leonhart.
Answering a question regarding the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, Leonhart recalled President Bush's decision to use a U.S. drug trafficking law to impose financial sanctions on the PKK. �This allows us to cut off organizations helping the PKK in their criminal activities,� said Leonhart.
Scott Burns from the White House said those using drugs are funding terrorism.