Organizational Structure of PKK and Non-PKK-Linked Turkish Drug Trafficking Organizations: The Influence of Social Bonds

Tugrul Turhal

Major Professor: Faye S. Taxman, PhD, Department of Criminology, Law and Society

Committee Members: Danielle Rudes, Devon Johnson, Debra Stanley

Merten Hall (formerly University Hall), #3001
December 03, 2015, 12:30 PM to 09:30 AM


Drugs and drug related crime problems pose major threats to societies around the world in terms of their negative consequences at both individual and societal levels. Turkish drug-trafficking organizations (DTOs) have ethnic, social, geographic, and economic ties with Turkey’s eastern neighbors, the Balkan Region, and Europe, and are considered to play major roles in the drug trade. The Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) has also had a longstanding presence in the drug trade in this region.

The goals of this research are (1) to identify the social and demographic characteristics of people in drug-trafficking organizations in Turkey; (2) to elucidate the differences, if any, of the social and structural characteristics in PKK-related and non-PKK-related drug organizations; and (3) to analyze the impact of social bonds on the Turkish drug trafficking organizations (DTOs), their networks and relationships.

The data used in this study are official Turkish Police records of drug trafficking cases between 1984 and 2010. Several statistical techniques were used to analyze the data; relationship analysis, analysis of difference, and social network analysis to address the research questions. An analysis of these relationships at both the individual and network level was conducted using original data on 773 members from 100 drug-trafficking organizations (50 of them PKK linked and 50 of them non-PKK linked).

The results indicate that while there are some similarities with PKK and non-PKK linked organizations there are also distinct differences in their individual and organizational characteristics, structure, role distribution, nationality, and social ties and bonds. In addition, the study found important evidence connecting the terrorist organization (PKK) with several non-PKK organizations. These connections are quite strong for a portion of the networks. This study significantly contributes to the related literature; it provides a general overview of drug and drug related crime problems and their connection to terrorist organizations throughout the world particularly for those located in Turkey and the Middle Eastern regions.