Turkish police seize several tons of illegal alcohol

High taxes on liquor have created a market for illicit liquor in Turkey and police are cracking down.

al-monitor Turkish authorities have been seizing unauthorized liquor following the deaths of dozens of people from bootleg alcohol in October. In this photo, from March 30, 2005, a worker in Istanbul carries raki bottles for destruction after a legally operating distillery accidentally created a poisonous batch that killed close to 25 people. Photo by MUSTAFA OZER/AFP via Getty Images.

Feb 3, 2021

Turkish police have seized more than 9 tons of bootleg alcohol, the state-run Anadolu Agency reported Wednesday.

The hefty amount of illegal liquor was in four warehouses in Istanbul. Police also seized 318 liters (84 gallons) in the central province of Malatya. They arrested five people in relation to the alcohol, including one foreigner, according to Anadolu.

Bootleg alcohol refers to the illegal transfer or sale of alcohol. It could be alcohol that is falsely labeled, does not adhere to legal limits or is sold without supervision from authorities.

Turkey allows alcohol consumption, but high taxes on alcohol in recent years have created a large market for illegal homemade and counterfeit alcoholic beverages. There were dozens of deaths related to such alcohol in October, which prompted calls for the government to lower the taxes.

Islam forbids alcohol consumption and the taxes on alcohol are supported by the ruling conservative Justice and Development Party. Many people in the Muslim world drink, however. Raki, an anise-based liquor, is the national drink of Turkey. Neighboring Arab states have a similarly popular alcohol called arak.

Late last month, police seized more than 1,000 liters (264 gallons) in the western province of Manisa, Anadolu reported.

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