Heroin, Organized Crime, and the Making of Modern Turkey explores the history of organized crime in Turkey and the roles which gangs and gangsters have played in the making of the Turkish state and Turkish politics. Turkey’s underworld, which has been at the heart of several devastating scandals over the last several decades, is strongly tied to the country’s long history of opium production and heroin trafficking. As an industry at the center of the Ottoman Empire’s long transition into the modern Turkish Republic, as important as the silk road had been in earlier centuries, the modern rise of the opium and heroin trade helped to solidify and complicate long-standing relationships between state officials and criminal syndicates. Such relationships produced not only ongoing patterns of corruption, but helped fuel and enable repeated acts of state violence.
Drawing upon new archival sources from the United States and Turkey, including declassified documents from the Prime Minister’s Archives of the Republic of Turkey and the Central Intelligence Agency, Heroin, Organized Crime, and the Making of Modern Turkey provides a critical window into how a handful of criminal syndicates played supporting roles in the making of national security politics in the contemporary Turkey. The rise of the “Turkish mafia”, from its origins in the late Ottoman period to its role in the “deep state” revealed by the so-called Susurluk and Ergenekon scandals, is a story that mirrors troubling elements in the republic’s establishment and emphasizes the transnational and comparative significance of narcotics and gangs in the country’s past.
Ryan Gingeras is the author of Fall of the Sultanate: The Great War and the End of the Ottoman Empire 1908-1922 and Sorrowful Shores: Violence, Ethnicity, and the End of the Ottoman Empire, which received short list distinctions for the Rothschild Book Prize in Nationalism and Ethnic Studies and the