The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu posted a social media message on November 6. His message was like proof that the subject of fighting against drugs and drug cartels had become a part of political discourse ahead of elections.
The message was in Serbian. He posted that message after Serbian criminal organisation leader Zeljko Bojanic was taken into police custody in Istanbul. When he posted that, Istanbul police had already begun a crime scene investigation in Bojanic’s villa, excavating his garden and looking for bodies under the suspicion that some missing persons might have been killed and buried there.
The CHP leader’s message was both in Turkish and Serbian.
“I am calling out to the cartels: Leave our cities. Or else, we will destroy you. Take your dirty money with you and leave. We do not have a single child to sacrifice to you,” the Turkish one read. The Serbian one directly addressed “Serbian cartels.”
From one point of view, the security forces were doing their job. They caught the mafia leader, wanted by the international police organisation Interpol with a red notice, in Istanbul. However, the truth on the other side of the coin was different: Bojanic has been living in Istanbul since 2014.
A villa in Sarıyer
The incident came to light when journalist Fatih Altaylı posted a video on his Twitter account, presumably taken by the neighbors, on November 6, writing that “the police have been digging in the garden for 3 days.” If Altaylı had not posted that tweet, maybe this would not have been revealed.
Their neighbours were astonished; Mr. “Boris” was a quiet person. Now, the excavation work in his garden is in search of the dead bodies of Risto Mijonovik, one of his assistants whom he allegedly killed due to an intra-organisational conflict, along with three women who were used as drugs couriers and killed.
The Serbian mafia had settled in Istanbul to such an extent that they were “dealing with” their gang-wars in the city. Kılıçdaroğlu’s message shed light on this situation. Just a few days ago, during his trip to London, he made the statement, “I will cut off the heads of the drug lords” when they come to power.
The Sarıyer district of Istanbul, where his villa is located, is important; not only because most of the district’s forests were legalised for construction under a rent-seeking government policy for the last two decades. It is because the Presidential Residence Huber Mansion, Istanbul Provincial Gendarmerie Command Barracks, Istanbul Coast Guard and Straits Command, and National Intelligence Organization (MIT) Istanbul Regional Presidency are also located in Sarıyer District. In other words, the crime scene is right under the noses of state security organizations.
Not just Sariyer, not just Istanbul
Just a month ago, on October 8, two Turkish citizens were injured while they were eating at a restaurant in the İstinye Park Mall in Sarıyer during the clash between the Iranian and Azerbaijani mafia. Citizens of Russia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia were detained in a clash between mafias in a restaurant in Vadi Istanbul Mall in Sarıyer on September 13.
Three days before that, on September 9, Jovita Vukotic, alleged leader of criminal organisation based in Montenegro, Skaljari, was killed by an armed attack on his automobile in Şişli district, neighbouring Sarıyer. Vukotic, who was also wanted in connection with the murder of Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic in 2003, had been captured in Antalya in 2018 and extradited, but he was released and returned to Turkey in 2020 with a fake passport under the disguise of a “real estate agent.”
Speaking of Antalya… As a result of the conflict between the Azerbaijani and Russian mafias, the leader of the Azerbaijani crime organization, Nadir Salifov, was also killed in a restaurant in Antalya on August 19, 2020, and this incident was brought to public attention with the allegations published by the leader of the Turkish crime organization, Sedat Peker, from the United Arab Emirates.
The developments regarding Bordum, the favourite of Russian billionaires, which came to attention with Peker’s statements, may come to the fore again soon.
The hotel that Kılıçdaroğlu drew attention to
Aside from the regular killings of Iranian and Russian regime opponents in Turkey, the country is now a scene to the Israeli-Iranian secret service clashes.
However, the Balkan mafia organizations’ operations in Turkey are currently under the spotlight. In the meantime, it has been revealed that the perpetrator of the Thodex crypto money scam, Faruk Fatih Özer, is under the protection of the mafia in Albania, where he is a fugitive.
In the meantime, the “hotel in Laleli” issue, which Kılıçdaroğlu brought up in his address to the CHP Group on November 2, is also interesting. The point that Kılıçdaroğlu made was that the hotel, which was owned by the Turkish Aeronautical Association (THK) and had not been used for two years under the trustee’s administration, was trying to be sold to the Qataris at no cost.
However, the existence of the Balkan mafia may also be behind this possible hotel sale. Laleli is one of the regions where Bosnian, Macedonian, Albanian, and Montenegrin Turks and Muslims settled and traded in the 1950s and 1960s. However, lately, it has been said that the district is now among the regions that the Serbian and Montenegrin mafias are trying to dominate. It should not be surprising that the Bojanic incident, which caused Kılıçdaroğlu to tweet in Serbian, is also related to the Laleli-focused mafia clashes.
The fight against drugs
After all, the Serbian mafia chief has been living in Istanbul and Sarıyer, right under the nose of state institutions, since 2014, and he has been operating his bloody operations and clashes there.
In his speech at the anti-drugs meeting in Bursa, Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said that they detain 5,000 drug dealers or manufacturers every week. We have to say that most of them are minor sellers. I have to express my gratitude to the hard-working narcotics police and experts. It’s not their fault; the police work and operate according to the directions and instructions from above.
On the other hand, as of the end of September, no one is under arrest in the “Swamp Operation,” which Soylu announced on June 30 as the biggest anti-drugs operation in the history of the Republic. You have to deal with the small sellers, but you can’t drain the “swamp” by just making mosquitoes go away.
It’s no longer a danger; it’s the reality we live in
In addition, the figures Soylu gave also show how widespread the problem has become in recent years. It seems that Kılıçdaroğlu’s pointing to synthetic drugs, which have been increasing in recent years and that surround the poor neighbourhoods of big cities due to their cheapness, has had an impact. In this regard, we need to acknowledge the work of Deep Poverty Network manager Hacer Foggo and her efforts to warn the CHP administration.
Unfortunately, we are in the days when we are talking about the reality, not the danger, of all mafia organisations in our region turning into a field of operations and clashes.