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Turkey cracks down on bootleg alcohol ahead of New Year celebrations 

Following news of bootleg-related deaths, the Interior Ministry launched Operation Alcohol across the country, while critics say the government uses these high-profile operations to demonize alcohol consumption.
A customer shops for alcoholic beverages at a supermarket ahead of a 17-day nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic, in Istanbul on April 29, 2021.

As most Turks prepare for a quiet New Year’s Eve amid economic woes and a surge in COVID-19 cases, a nationwide crackdown on bootleg alcohol has revealed thousands of counterfeit bottles that were likely to literally poison the new year. 

A statement from the Interior Ministry on Dec. 28 revealed the participation of more than 20,000 police and gendarmerie officers in Operation Alcohol in the country’s 81 provinces, seizing 20,000 liters of counterfeit liquor — mostly vodka, whiskey and raki, Turkey’s aniseed national drink. Called by the pro-government press one of the biggest operations against bootleg alcohol ever, the police said they also seized thousands of empty bottles that would have been refilled with the counterfeit alcohol, fake alcohol labels, along with some guns and drugs. The Istanbul police continued Wednesday with an operation at a warehouse in Tarabya, one of Istanbul's chic districts.

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