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FILE PHOTO: A Turkish anti-narcotics police officer counts confiscated narcotics during a drug raid in Istanbul, Turkey, January 16, 2018. REUTERS/Osman Orsal/File Photo

(reuters_tickers)

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Turkey seized more than $460 million (349.6 million pounds) worth of narcotics in the first nine months of 2018, authorities said on Wednesday, a surge from a year earlier as Turkey ramps up its fight against illegal drug trafficking.

Both heroin and cocaine seizures rose by 51 percent, with ecstasy seizures up 245 percent, the interior ministry said.

Turkey is on the so-called Balkan Route of drugs trafficking which is used to supply the West with drugs from Asia and the Middle East, including heroin moving from Afghanistan to Europe.

A ministry statement said drug trafficking is one of the main financing sources for terrorist groups. Police operations against drug smuggling are up about 31 percent and detentions up around 28 percent this year, the ministry said.

Turkey has in recent years expanded its anti-narcotics activities following a rise in drug use and deaths caused by synthetic marijuana consumption.

($1 = 6.1050 liras)

(Reporting by Ali Kucukgocmen; Editing by Daren Butler, William Maclean)

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Reuters