An organized crime boss who sold underage girls for sex in prostitution and honey trap schemes in Turkey was acquitted of criminal charges by the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, while the police chief who investigated him was punished and jailed, secret documents have revealed.
Police Chief Yusuf Usşen, head of an organized crime police unit in Turkey’s western province of Izmir, had investigated an organized crime ring in the province that involved in sex trafficking, prostitution, extortion and other criminal activities. The initial investigation, done under the supervision of the provincial prosecutors, led to the discovery of Bülent Dengiyok as the head of the criminal enterprise. Usşen signed the warrant requests that were approved by the courts and exposed the members of the crime network under Dengiyok.
The transcripts of the wiretaps show that Dengiyok had been working in a hands-on style, talking to his girls and clients, arranging for the travel of women from Russia, Ukraine, Moldova, Belarus and other countries and bargaining on the price of sex. In a wiretap dated June 9, 2011, he was trying to sell underage girls to a client named Ergün, saying: “I have girls that you wouldn’t ever be able to find in your lifetime, but you need to talk about money. Don’t be tight with the money.” The man asked how much money Dengiyok was talking about here and said, “What’s the limit?” “Brother, these girls are 15 and 16 years old, they cost 500 million [$316] for two hours. It’s the going rate,” Ergün responded, “I understand,” to which Dengiyok said, “But I’ll give you a deal and make it 300 [$190],” ending the conversation.
Transcript of the wiretapped conversation that shows the bargaining over the price of underage girls for sex:Bulent_dengiyok1
In the investigation file are dozens of similar recorded conversations among Dengiyok and his people on selling sex. They reveal that he and others in the crime syndicate lured government employees and military officers in honey trap schemes to obtain confidential or secret documents in order to sell them later to the highest bidder. Officials who were reluctant to share more information were blackmailed with photos and video recordings that were taken in rendezvous locations or hotel rooms equipped with surveillance in advance. The gang recorded videos of some 2,500 people in such schemes, according to discoveries made by investigators during the execution of search and seizure warrants in the homes and offices of suspects.
The police investigative file showed that Dengiyok had four criminal offenses between 2002 and 2008 that included the burglary of a home and office in 2002, sexual molestation of a minor in 2006, and grand theft auto and involvement in prostitution in 2008.
The discovery of Dengiyok and other gang members’ illegal activities was made after police in Izmir received a tip on August 10, 2010 which informed them of a sex and human trafficking network that was involved in blackmail, prostitution, invasion of privacy and other criminal activities. Police briefed the prosecutor’s office on the tip and submitted preliminary research on the people named. The prosecutor on October 26, 2010 ordered the organized crime unit to investigate the claims and suspects named in the whistleblower’s account.
The preliminary report, dated December 3, 2010, shows the police investigated the claims made in the tip and identified nine people, including Russian and Belarusian women, who were involved in the gang. The report indicated that the gang forced women to engage in sex and seized the passports of foreign women who were lured to Turkey and forced to work in honey trap schemes. The gang was recording the sexual encounters to blackmail government officials. Police Chief Usşen played a key role in mapping out most pieces in the crime syndicate.
Secret technical and surveillance report on suspects submitted by Police Chief Yusuf Usşen as part of the court order:Yusuf_Ussen_report
The investigators had worked on the case for two years, obtained wiretap authorizations from the courts and ran surveillance on suspects to decode the network. It turned out the gang was much more than a sex trafficking network and resembled more of an espionage gang collecting top secret information from various government and military officials through honey traps, sexual favors or blackmail. Among the thousands of pages of secret documents were classified NATO and FBI documents that were shared with the Turkish government as a member of the alliance.
The first wave of arrests was launched on May 9-10, 2012 at the order of prosecutors, and additional criminal evidence was collected from the homes and offices of suspects during the execution of search and seizure warrants. More arrests were made after further evidence was obtained from the suspects and their homes and workplaces. In the end 357 suspects including 55 active duty military officers and numerous retired officers were indicted when the prosecutor filed criminal charges against the gang in 2013.
The indictment also revealed how NATO and US security was compromised. For example, NATO documents such as the assets and capabilities of the Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EAD) units operating in every NATO member state, secret US and NATO directives in bomb-making and bomb-diffusion techniques, FBI bomb-making analyses, electronic warfare data used in the NATO alliance, technical, tactical and procedural data for F-16s and sensitive information on US-made Hawk medium-range surface-to-air missile systems.
However, the criminal case against the gang members was quashed by the Erdoğan government, and all the suspects were let go in 2014. Dengiyok, who served some time in pre-trial detention after being indicted, was acquitted of all charges in February 2016 by judges appointed to hear the trial by the Erdoğan government. The original prosecutors, judges and police investigators who uncovered the massive espionage and sex trafficking ring were punished either by dismissal or arrest on trumped-up charges.
Police Chief Usşen, who exposed the network and uncovered overwhelming evidence, was not only dismissed but also jailed, tried and convicted on charges that he was affiliated with the Gülen movement, which is critical of the government and led by the US-based Turkish Muslim scholar Fethullah Gülen. Usşen was sentenced to 51 years, four months and five days in prison on false claims and punished by the government for exposing sex traffickers who sold underage girls in Turkey.
His boss, Ali Bilkay, the provincial police chief in Izmir, was also sentenced to 11 years on fabricated charges.