Officials accompany former PM's son, implicated in drug trafficking
An outrage has been expressed through thousands of messages on social media in Turkey after it has been brought to public attention by a journalist that former Turkish prime minister's son, implicated by a mafia boss turned whistleblower in international drug trafficking, was recently accompanied by a protocol of state officials in his visit to the eastern city of Erzurum.
The name "Erkam Yildirim" has quickly become one of the most popular Twitter hashtags on Thursday, following a report by Ismail Saymaz that Erkam Yildirim, the son of former prime minister Binali Yildirim - currently the second in command in the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) after the Turkish President himself - was accompanied on 13 January in Erzurum by officials including Governor Okay Memis and the provincial military officer in command Colonel Ilker Simsek.
Many people, including opposition deputies, reacted by tweets to an image showing Erkam Yildirim sitting discourteously with officials around him, while some also stressed that the man is a shady figure who has been accused of taking part in global drug trafficking.
The Turkish mafia boss Sedat Peker, once an ally of AKP, voiced a claim after he went rogue and fled Turkey that Erkam Yildirim traveled to Venezuela in early 2021 to set up a new route for drug trafficking.
In his Youtube video released in May 2021, Peker said:
"Who traveled to Venezuela to set up a new route? Mr. Erkam Yildirim, the son of former prime minister Binali Yildirim. He made a visit early this year and stayed for four days. The port of Caracas is the biggest port in Venezuela. Dry goods carriers may travel from the port directly to Turkey, but container ships travel via the Dominican Republic. There will be many seizures in ships that follow that route, because this is the new route."
Peker asserted that when the vessels carrying the cocaine shipment reached Turkey, the shipment was distributed by 30-35 m yachts in batches weighing half a ton, one ton or two tons. He added that a Halil Falyali based in Northern Cyprus was in charge of the finances.
Falyali was killed by gunmen in Northern Cyprus nine months after the release of Peker's video.
Following Peker's allegations about Erkam Yildirim, former prime minister Binali Yildirim denied the claims, and said that his son had indeed traveled to Venezuela, but only to distribute items such as surgical masks.