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 Treasury Designates Three Leaders of the Kongra-Gel as Significant Foreign Narcotics Traffickers


10/14/2009

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 The U.S. Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) today targeted the senior leadership of the Kongra-Gel, designating as significant foreign narcotics traffickers, Murat KARAYILAN, the head of the Kongra-Gel, and high-ranking members Ali Riza ALTUN and Zubayir AYDAR.   Formally known as the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), the Kongra-Gel was named by the President as a significant foreign narcotics trafficker under the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act (Kingpin Act) on May 30, 2008.   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.  Pursuant to the Kingpin Act, today's designation freezes any assets the three designees may have under U.S. jurisdiction and prohibits U.S. persons from conducting financial or commercial transactions with these individuals.   

"We will continue to aggressively track and expose the Kongra-Gel's financial network to disrupt its trafficking activities," said OFAC Director Adam J. Szubin.

Active in southeastern Turkey and northwestern Iraq, and supported by some of Europe's Kurdish community, the Kongra-Gel was designated as a significant foreign narcotics trafficker for its more than two decades-long participation in drug trafficking.   The drug trade is one of the Kongra-Gel's most lucrative criminal activities.  Nearly 300 individuals connected to the Kongra-Gel were arrested on drug trafficking charges from the mid-1980s through the early 1990s, more than half of them in Germany.  Such activity continues to this day; in 2007 and 2008, Turkish law enforcement seized a number of drug shipments and drug labs that belonged to the Kongra-Gel.   The Kongra-Gel has also relied extensively on taxing drug shipments that move through its territory.   Kongra-Gel has units on the borders of areas it controls to collect money from drug traffickers and a number of Turkish drug smugglers are reported to have given money to the organization.

Today's designation, supported by the Drug Enforcement Administration, is part of ongoing efforts under the Kingpin Act to apply financial measures against significant foreign narcotics traffickers worldwide.  Internationally, more than 500 businesses and individuals associated with 82 drug kingpins have been designated pursuant to the Kingpin Act 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.

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