Turkey's second-largest law enforcement agency, the Gendarmerie, which is a member of the NATO Stability Policing Centre of Excellence (NATO SP COE) and the International Association of Gendarmerie and Police Forces with Military Status (FIEP), is led by a general who has been associated with organized crime syndicates and mafia groups that run criminal enterprises ranging from drug trafficking to loan sharking.
Gen. Arif Çetin, the head of Turkey's gendarmerie (Jandarma Genel Komutanlığı), is alleged to have enriched himself through substantial cuts from the sale of illegal goods and bribes provided by notorious crime figures. In exchange for these payments, it is claimed that the gendarmerie turned a blind eye to criminal activities. Furthermore, there are reports of a large photo album featuring the general, showing him posing with notorious criminal figures, some of whom have been indicted, convicted, and served time in the past.
Çetin commands the gendarmerie, an important law enforcement agency in Turkey with jurisdiction over 93 percent of the country's territory, responsible for serving approximately 20 percent of the total population. The remaining areas are under the jurisdiction of the police department, the primary law enforcement agency.
With almost 200,000 personnel under his command (195,218 to be exact according to this year's figures), the gendarmerie operates in rural and border areas that are of great importance to criminal syndicates. These areas are essential for their operations, involving the movement of drugs, human trafficking and smuggling of goods from abroad.
The gendarmerie officially operates under the Interior Ministry but is also a component of the Turkish military. It was originally designed to serve under the command of the General Staff, functioning as part of the armed forces during wartime or general mobilizations.
Read the rest of this article at Nordic Monitor.
Abdullah Bozkurt, a Middle East Forum Ginsburg/Milstein Writing Fellow, is a Sweden-based investigative journalist and analyst who runs the Nordic Research and Monitoring Network and is chairman of the Stockholm Center for Freedom.