Secret Transit: Making an Arrangement

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Bulgaria: Secret Transit: Making an Arrangement Photo by Yuliana Nikolova (Sofia Photo Agency)

"Secret Transit" is an investigating material by Darik radio crime reporter Bogdana Lazarova on the state-organized trafficking in Bulgaria. It was published in the book, called "Affair", written by Bogdana Lazarova and her colleague Nikolay Hristov. Novinite.com is publishing the whole material, dividing it into several instalments.

Here is the fourth one:


The official Department "I" with the Second Department immediately became the independent Fourth Economic Department with the Secret Services - only ten days after the talks under a secret decision "B" N 1of the Central Committee of BCP on January 16 1986. Under the same decision of that body, General-Major Kiril Velichkov, the former head of Department "I", was appointed the newly established department's chief. All economic activities were transferred to Department "B". In the same year, Kintex divided into several other companies. Then "Intercommerce" and "Teraton" were founded. The act aimed at clearing the reputation of Kintex so that it could continue functioning at the weapon markets.

In practice, the whole Third Directorate of Kintex, which performed the secret transit for a long time, had not been taken by the new Fourth Economic Department of the Secret Services, put under the control of General Velichkov, but by "Intercommerce". All directorate's papers, related to the secret transit, were brought there. That way, the export of the currency, gained due to the secret transit through the foreign trade enterprises, continued for three years more. At the official meeting of the Interior Ministry on December 13, 1989, a month after Todor Zhivkov fell from presidency on November 10, the ministry sends into retirement the Vice Interior Minister Grigor Shopov and the director of the Sixth Department Anton Musakov. The ministry also closes the Sixth Department and appoints vice directors G. Silianov and Tz. Tzvetkov directors of Second Department. The Second Department itself is gradually turned into the future National Service for Constitution Protection, or simply said the counter-intelligence. The traces of the money gained from the state-organized trafficking are covered through the labyrinth of international trade companies.

In 1991, during the time of Dimitar Popov's cabinet, another report of 127 pages is written and signed by vice PM Dimitar Ludzhev. The report is about the economic activities of the former State Security and just like the report of Hristo Danov is not publicly released. Dimitar Ludzhev himself claims he did not accept the report and sent it back to be reworked. Whatever its fate was, the report reads:

"The lack of report data during the last three years -1989/1991, mostly due to discontinued practice of annual reporting from the directors of the international trade companies to the Foreign Trade Ministry and the Ministry of Finance, does not allow for an objective report on their financial condition to be prepared. Despite these facts, it is worth mentioning the bankruptcy of Hochloitner -Wien, which brought a loss of USD 18 M to Bulgaria. In the beginning of 1991, the company Ropewerk - Germany went bankrupt, which together with the losses before 1990 amounts to more than DM 82 M, as the Bulgarian owner have paid DM 69 M."

However, there are a number of traces in the Interior Ministry and the prosecution that show the secret transit was also covered by the use of judicial instruments.

Bulgarians arrested abroad over trafficking could not face trials abroad under the provisions of Bulgaria's constitution of that time and authorities used to ask for extradition under the pretext of launching trials in Bulgaria. This never happened - the cases here were just closed.

After 1990 the prosecutor's office unsuccessfully tried to track down the financial capital exported through transborder companies. All attempts of the government, led by Filip Dimitrov since 1992, failed. According to prosecutors nearly USD 20 B flowed out through foreign trade companies, which is twice the foreign trade Bulgaria woke up with on November 10 when the communist regime collapsed. Here are some other interesting facts that the prosecutors reveal:

Ever since 1987 the Bulgarian Foreign Trade Bank started a process of transferring money to foreign banks by making deposits. At a certain point the sum exceeded USD 1 B, but started to quickly dwindle during the period 1988/1989 and on December 31, 1989 there remained no more than USD 115 M, which totally disappeared as of March 31, 1990. It is believed that the money was managed personally by communist dictator Todor Zhivkov, while the former chairmen of the two banks - Vassil Kolarov and Ivan Dragnevski - took active part in the operations.

Ever since the early 70s there emerged articles in the Turkish press and official protest notes, whose wording was rather harsh and direct, slamming Bulgaria's contraband channels to Turkey and through Turkey to the Arab world, which were used mainly for smuggling weapons. The local press more and more often published reports, according to which the Bulgarians are not applying for registration or permits for the weapons transferred but supplied with them the Turkish mafia. Smugglers were being cited as saying that they obtain licenses from the Arab emirates or some African countries at USD 25,000 - 30,000. Having obtained the licenses, they buy from 10 to 20 000 weapons and 4-5 million bullets that they load aboard ships and head for Turkey. This is the time when Turkish terrorist networks are growing and gaining momentum and these people need weapons. The Turkish journalist Ugur Mumdzhu from the Jumhuriet newspaper speaks about Kintex weapons deals in his book "Pope- Agca-mafia" He claims that a huge amount of weaponry has been supplied to the Turkish terrorists via Bulgaria. The weapons came from a number of countries, mainly Belgium, Italy and France. In return Turkey exported drugs that were exchanged for the weapons that were transited through Bulgaria.

This is how the arrangements were made: you are calling the mediator, who is working with Kintex. He sends your name to be checked in Sofia. The Bulgarian agents in Istanbul also run a check of your name. If you are experienced in smuggling and have no connections with the police, you are employed by Kintex. You are sending to the people in Sofia a description of your car or tuck and your registration number, telling them when you are going to cross the border. "Kintex" sent a person to the border, who prevented the check of the transport means. The bosses of the Turkish mafia worked for the Bulgarian Secret Services - that was what publications in the press read.

A US note, issued on April 6, 1983, applied to the investigative materials on the assault against Pope John Paul II, mentioned the state-organized smuggling in Bulgaria. Heroin, weapons and cigarettes contraband in Bulgaria was made by Turkish nationals, the document reads. It was sent to the judge and investigator Ilario Martella and forwarded to the Italian Embassy in Ankara, along with other papers, compiled by the Turkish reporter Mumdzhu:

"I would like to once again confirm we are seriously concerned about the tolerant attitude Bulgaria demonstrates toward notorious weapon and drug smugglers and their activities. Of course, such activities could not be performed if the Bulgarian authorities have not been informed about them. If Bulgarian government takes some measures to cease them, when they are performed on Bulgarian territory, would have a positive impact on the official opinions about the country itself. The problem, described here, does not concern only people, who just cross Bulgaria, but also those, who stay there for a longer period of time. Following our conversation, held on September 8 and during your meeting with the Deputy Secretary Eagleburger and the Assistant Secretary Burt in Washington in October, I would like to direct your attention to the following people, who, as it was reported, use or used Sofia as a base for performing weapon and drugs smuggling operations:

- Aslan Kapanoglu Aka Mehmet Otskan. Kapanoglu is of Turkish origin and is about 40-year-old. He is a well-known heroin dealer. It is known that he lived in Sofia and one could get in touch with him at 43 75 74.

- Sikki Chelal. Chelal is of Turkish origin and is about 30-year-old. He travels by Cyprus transport means. He is a well-known heroin dealer. One could get in touch with him in Sofia at 51 48 09 and 31 722.

- Nikola Nikola Aka Abu Bshara - Nikola was born in Sofia on October 11, 1933. He is a well-known heroin dealer and is believed to be involved in the weapon trade. He could be contacted at the followinf Sofia phone numbers: 62 88 49 and 62 39 63.

- Husein Ugurlu Aka Husein Ugurlu Aka Kurt Husein Aka Hamal Husein - he is son of Abutser ugurlu Aka Abutserugur Aka Matsen Tsaduani Aka Abuser Ugurlu Aka Abuser Ugurlu, who is now behind bars in a prison in Turkey. It is suspected that Husein is involved in weapons and drugs trade.

- Ismael Hadzhi Suleymanoglu Aka Ismail Oflu aka Kiosak Ismail Aka Oflu Ismail Aka Hadzhi Suleymanoglu Aka Ismail Hadzhi Suleymanoglu - he was born in Turkey in 1933 and is suspected of weapons and drugs smuggling. He could be connected at 24 21 91 in Sofia.

Except the above listed people, who are known to have performed their criminal activities in Sofia, we would like to mention two others, who have been detained by the Bulgarian and the Yugoslavian authorities and we would be very grateful if you can give us more information about their activities:

- Bekir Cheleng, born in Turkey in 1934. It was said he was involved in weapon and drug smuggling and was connected to the case of Henri Arsan from Milan. He is accused of committing crimes in turkey. He has been detained in Sofia.

- Kenter Albayrak - he is of Turkish origin and was born in Yugoslavia in 1937. He is said to be related to the Bulgarian foreign trade organization Kintex. Albayrak was arrested in Yugoslavia in June 1982 over heroin possession.

- Except the fact that Kenter Albayrak is related to the Bulgarian foreign trade organization Kintex, we would like to inform you there were many reports, claiming Kintex is involved in illegal weapon and drug trade. I would be very grateful if you give me all data Bulgaria's government has concerning those people and their illegal activities, performed in other countries".
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