Turkish mafia
TerritoryTurkey, Azerbaijan, Iraq, Germany, Sweden, United Kingdom, Russia, Italy, Bulgaria, Albania, Israel, Balkans, Turkmenistan, France, Netherlands, Belgium, United States, Switzerland, Norway, Romania[1][2]
Criminal activitiesArms trafficking, assassination, assault, bank fraud, blackmailing, bribery, car bombing, car theft, contract killing, counterfeiting, drug trafficking, extortion, forced prostitution, fraud, human trafficking, infiltration of politics, illegal gambling, insurance fraud, kidnapping, money laundering, murder, police corruption, police impersonation, prostitution, racketeering, tax evasion, theft, witness intimidation, witness tampering
AlliesGrey Wolves
British firms
Albanian mafia
Sicilian Mafia
Azerbaijani mafia
Pakistani mafia
Russian mafia
Colombian cartels
Bulgarian mafia
Sinaloa Cartel[3]
Cartel of the Suns
RivalsArmenian mafia
Greek mafia

Turkish mafia (Turkish: Türk mafyası) is the general term for criminal organizations based in Turkey and/or composed of (former) Turkish citizens. Crime groups with origins in Turkey are active throughout Western Europe (where a strong Turkish immigrant community exists) and less so in the Middle East. Turkish criminal groups participate in a wide range of criminal activities, internationally the most important being drug trafficking, especially heroin. In the trafficking of heroin they cooperate with Bulgarian mafia groups who transport the heroin further to countries such as Italy.[4] Recently however, Turkish mafia groups have also stepped up in the cocaine trafficking world by directly participating in the massive cocaine smuggling pipeline that runs transnationally from South America to Europe. They allegedly have a lucrative partnership with the Venezuelan drug-trafficking organization known as the Cartel of the Suns who ships them cocaine along with criminal elements from Ecuador. Turkish organized crime has pushed into less traditional cocaine markets as well such as into Eastern Europe, the Caucasus, and the wealthy petro-states of the Persian Gulf. Cosa Nostra and the Turkish mafia are also known[citation needed] to be extremely close. Criminal activities such as the trafficking of other types of drugs, illegal gambling, human trafficking, prostitution or extortion are committed in Turkey itself as well as European countries with a sizeable Turkish community such as Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, Albania, and the United Kingdom.[citation needed]

Most Turkish crime syndicates have their origin in two regions: the Trabzon province on the Black Sea coast of northeastern Turkey and the East and Southeast Anatolia in the south of the country. The biggest origin is on the coast of the Black Sea, located near Trabzon.[citation needed]


The Turkish mafia was involved in the weapons trade in the 1970s, and the heroin trade in the 1980s to present, and then moved along into human smuggling.[5]

Bekir Çelenk was one of the members of the Turkish mafia and was involved in the plot to assassinate pope John Paul II.[6]

Ties to deep state

Some members of the Turkish mafia have ties to the deep state in Turkey, including the National Intelligence Organization (MIT), as well as the Grey Wolves.[7] These ties became public during the Susurluk scandal.[8][9][10]

The Grey Wolves represent an ideological organization close to certain mafia groups. This organization was an instrument to fight the Kurds of PKK. The ideology of the Gray Wolves unites many far-right radical nationalists close to the MHP and the AKP.[11]

Crime groups

Criminal groups composed of Turks are active throughout the country and in communities with a large ethnically Turkish population. Certain Turkish criminal groups have strong links with corrupt politicians and corrupt members of the local law enforcement. They are active in different sections of organized crime and can often be linked to politically motivated groups, such as the Grey Wolves. This can especially be the case with criminals in immigrant Turkish communities.[12] Powerful and important Turkish criminal organizations mostly have their origin in the Trabzon Province[13] and incorporate members of both the Turkish and the Laz populations.

Eastern Black Sea crime groups

Even though crime groups composed of Turks come from all over the country, a relatively high amount of them have origins in the Black Sea region of Turkey, especially in Trabzon. These groups consisting of Turks and Laz people are especially strong in the country itself.[citation needed] Eastern Black Sea crime bosses such as Alaattin Çakıcı are known from having links to or being members of the politically motivated group Grey Wolves.[14]

Turkish Cypriot crime groups

Following the substantial immigration of Turkish Cypriots to London criminal gangs composed of Turkish Cypriots were formed in working-class neighborhoods. Mainly involved in drug trafficking, armed robbery, money laundering these crime clans have more in common with the traditional White British crime firms than with the Turkish mafia.[citation needed]

Kurdish crime groups

See also: Kurdistan Workers' Party § Alleged involvement in Drug trafficking

Some ethnically Kurdish crime groups have their origin in the Southeast Anatolia part of Turkey. These groups are believed largely clan based and their main source of income is allegedly believed to be the trafficking of heroin and weapons. Some group of those leaders, such as Hüseyin Baybaşin had been active in Western European countries, especially Great Britain. Some Turkish sources have accused them to have links to the PKK, but never confirmed by authorities.[15]

Kurdish Zaza crime families in wider Europe

While ethnically kurdish Zaza groups are not noteworthy in Turkey itself, large Alevi Zaza immigrant communities have formed in Great Britain and Germany. Criminal gangs from these communities have links with other Turkish and Kurdish crime bosses and are involved in drug trafficking and contract killing. An example in London is the brutal turf war between Turkish gangs, such as the so-called Tottenham Boys and the Hackney Turks. The Tottenham Boys and Hackney Turks are mainly ethnic Kurdish gangs, but they also have some Turkish members.[16]

Notable Turkish mafiosi

See also


  1. ^ ""Regele Florilor" a pus Politia Româna pe mafia turca - Ziarul National". 19 November 2010.
  2. ^ "Cum a reuşit mafia turcă să fraudeze statul român". 26 January 2016.
  3. ^ LaOpinionLA, Por: Redacción laopinionla laopinionla (June 5, 2020). "VIDEO: Mafia de Turquía anuncia asociación con el Mayo Zambada y el Cártel de Sinaloa".
  4. ^ "From opium to heroin: Turkey's gold mines < Enquiries < REPORT < Flare Network". flarenetwork.org. Archived from the original on 23 June 2013. Retrieved 13 August 2015.
  5. ^ Dina Siegel; H. Bunt; D. Zaitch. Global Organized Crime: Trends and Developments. p. 74.
  6. ^ Jongman, Albert. Political Terrorism: A New Guide To Actors, Authors, Concepts, Data Bases, Theories, And Literature. p. 678.
  7. ^ "Turkey's "Deep-State" and the Ergenekon Conundrum". Middle East Institute.
  8. ^ "Turkey's most shocking scandal back on agenda with Ergenekon". 10 January 2009.
  9. ^ "The ultra-nationalist Turkish mob boss Erdogan can't touch". Middle East Eye.
  10. ^ "Turkey releases notorious mafia leader Alaattin Çakıcı with ties to nationalist party from prison". 16 April 2020.
  11. ^ M@Rt1n@Sl@n (2022-11-09). "Mafias and the Turkish state". Ost Konflikt. Retrieved 2023-05-09.((cite web)): CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  12. ^ "Corruptie en georganiseerde misdaad in Turkije - aanvulling bij De diepte van de Bosporus". Retrieved 26 December 2014.
  13. ^ "Le nationalisme turc prospère à Trabzon". Le Figaro. 31 January 2007. Retrieved 6 May 2015.
  14. ^ "Refugee Review Tribunal | AUSTRALIA RRT RESEARCH RESPONSE" (PDF). 11 June 2009. Retrieved 13 August 2015.
  15. ^ Shanty, Frank; Mishra, Patit Paban (2008). Organized Crime. Bloomsbury Academic. ISBN 9781576073377. Retrieved 26 December 2014.
  16. ^ "BBC News - Could Turkish and Kurdish gangs become new 'mafia'?". BBC News. 21 October 2010. Retrieved 26 December 2014.