WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of the Treasury today announced the designation of Kongra-Gel founders Cemil Bayik and Duran Kalkan and leaders Remzi Kartal, Sabri Ok and Adem Uzun as Specially Designated Narcotics Traffickers (SDNTs) pursuant to the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act (Kingpin Act).
Formerly known as the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), the Kongra-Gel was named by the President as a significant foreign narcotics trafficker under the Kingpin Act in May 2008 for its more than two decades-long participation in drug trafficking. Kongra-Gel uses its network across Europe to produce, transport, and traffic opiates and cannabis. Drug trafficking is one of the Kongra-Gel’s most lucrative criminal activities. The organization uses drug proceeds to obtain weapons and materials. The State Department designated the Kongra-Gel as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist in 2001 pursuant to Executive Order 13224 and as a Foreign Terrorist Organization in 1997.
“We are striking at the heart of Kongra Gel with this action against its founders, key leaders and sources of funding and will continue efforts to suppress the flow of illicit narcotics proceeds to this organization in support of its terrorist activities,” said Acting Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David S. Cohen.
One of its founders, Cemil Bayik is also a senior military commander of the Kongra-Gel. Duran Kalkan serves on the group’s chairmanship council and is responsible for an attack that killed seven Turkish soldiers in December 2009. Remzi Kartal is the chief Kongra-Gel operative in Europe. Sabri Ok is a senior Kongra-Gel leader responsible for the group’s finances in Europe, and Adem Uzun operates on behalf of the Kongra-Gel in northern Iraq. Today’s action freezes any assets the five individuals may have under U.S. jurisdiction and prohibits U.S. persons from conducting financial or commercial transactions with them.
Supported by the Drug Enforcement Administration, today’s action is part of ongoing efforts pursuant to the Kingpin Act to apply financial measures against significant foreign narcotics traffickers worldwide. Internationally, more than 900 businesses and individuals linked to 87 drug kingpins have been identified for sanctions since June 2000.
Penalties for violations of the Kingpin Act range from civil penalties of up to $1.075 million per violation to more severe criminal penalties. Criminal penalties for corporate officers may include up to 30 years in prison and fines up to $5 million. Criminal fines for corporations may reach $10 million. Other individuals face up to 10 years in prison and fines pursuant to Title 18 of the United States Code for criminal violations of the Kingpin Act.