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Smuggling scandal rocks Swedish Air Force

Smuggling scandal rocks Swedish Air Force

Published: 26 Oct 2011 15:13 GMT+02:00
Updated: 26 Oct 2011 15:13 GMT+02:00

The Swedish military has been hit by a smuggling scandal stemming from the Air Force's just completed mission in Libya.

The alleged smuggling took place in connection with Sweden's contribution of several Gripen fighter planes to provide surveillance support to Nato operations in Libya.

As part of the operation, military supplies were flown between the Sigonella military base in Sicily, Italy and an air base in Sweden.

However, an inspection of crates containing the officers' personal items that arrived at the F21 air wing in Luleå in northern Sweden revealed that a number of personal items, including wine, liquor, toys, and home electronic equipment were included among the military materiel, the Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) newspaper reported.

The items are believed to have been purchased at a duty-free shop for military personnel stationed at the Italian military base.

Citing an anonymous source at military headquarters, the local Västerbotten Kuriren newspaper reported that the items consisted mostly of presents purchased by Swedish officers for their families.

Now a total of 14 employees at the F21 air wing have come under suspicion of smuggling the items into Sweden illegally.

By including the items on military transports, the suspects were able to avoid paying both freight and customs duties or sales taxes.

While anyone is able to purchase duty-free items for personal use in another EU country and bring the items back to Sweden, the buyer is responsible for transporting the goods rather than using military transports.

Military police have since confiscated the items and reported the suspected smuggling to prosecutors in Luleå.

“We take this very seriously,” Katja Öberg Lundgren, a spokesperson for Sweden's military police, told the newspaper.

“Armed Forces transports shouldn't be used for private purposes”

Prosecutor Åke Hansson confirmed that his office had launched a preliminary investigation into the alleged smuggling of goods.

If convicted, those suspected of trying to circumvent import rules, would face fines.

TT/The Local/dl (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

15:55 October 26, 2011 by apelsin000
US won WWII because every US soldier had his family in the mind. So, nice deed! Shame on Swedish custom!
16:02 October 26, 2011 by rise
@ apelsin000

US would never had won over Japan if it wouldn't have been for the use of nuclear weapons! Shame on North American custom!
16:14 October 26, 2011 by mosschops
So what! It is common practice in the armed forces.Perks of the job.I would understand if they had just smashed a drug ring(which is why they do the checks in the first place).A few ipods and some wine after a tour in a combat zone deserves the 'blind eye' treatment.As a taxpayer,I would rather these servicemen & women be cut a little slack rather than waste time and money investigating this rubbish.I would suggest that there are more serious crimes being committed in Sweden at the moment that are more deserving of time & effort.
16:38 October 26, 2011 by jomamas
ha haa haaa ... ha ahaa .

SCANDAL?

So people that risk their lives bring some things back and you're worried about 'import duties' ... ha ha ...

This web site is run by sick communists .... 'The Local''s only objective is to destroy the military, destroy the monarchy, destroy capitalism, destroy everything Swedish and enable the country to be overrun by foreign immigrants who need learn only English instead of Swedish as you provide them with ample social services and they rip you off. Honestly, what jokers.

Swedes really need to face an existential crisis to remind them the value of what they have before the current generation of cowards decides to give it all away ...
17:11 October 26, 2011 by salalah
This is a Red Herring to distract people from the real issue;Broken watches of the pilots....and besides... was their little escapade really legal? Sweden is not in NATO...
17:14 October 26, 2011 by StockholmSam
@Rise

You obviously have not studied your history.
17:25 October 26, 2011 by star10
poor soldiers!
18:26 October 26, 2011 by darky
This is no news. People will risk dem lives fighting in the name of giving their country a good name and when they buy gifts for their families they missed while away, u say u wanna press charges. Bulsh''''t. Good as u say these were gifts for their families and not for sale. How does this sound to u Katja Öberg Lundgren??
18:49 October 26, 2011 by Vill
What is wrong with snuggling? If a Swedish air force pilot needs a good snuggle then he/she should be able to do so. Oh wait, the word is "smuggle". ; )
18:50 October 26, 2011 by Grokh
When i read smuggling i thought it were stolen goods or drugs..

toys and wine seriously?

its not like they stole the stuff.

just fine them for attempt to evade the stupid taxes for buying stuff elsewhere , and move on. there are more pressing matters to report.
18:50 October 26, 2011 by Vitas
apelsin000: USSR won WWII. Study history, not USA propagana!
18:54 October 26, 2011 by Abe L
Yes, not paying taxes in Sweden is like raping a baby.

This is really not a big deal. (the smuggling)
19:29 October 26, 2011 by Investor612
Vitas, you should follow your own advice and read some history. The USSR was the major factor in the defeat of Germany. The US was to an even greater degree the major factor in the defeat of Imperial Japan.

rise, defeat for Japan was inevitable by the time the bombs were dropped. It just would have entailed another quarter to half million dead Americans(which would make today's US hating Euros happy) and a couple million or more so dead in the territories Imperial Japan occupied.

I can understand Swede's being ignorant about WWII. Their own history during the period isn't exactly inspiring.

This story in the local is a nonstory. Soldiers have always found a way to send things home while deployed in foreign lands. As long as they weren't smuggling drugs or engaged in large scale crime this is trivial.
19:52 October 26, 2011 by BillyB
So what...everyone would do the same if they have a chance.

the only reason they were caught was due to jealousy of the inspectors.

If they had the chance to bring stuff over themselves they wouldn't hesitate for a second.
20:29 October 26, 2011 by Svensksmith
Could be a new business opportunity for the Swedish military..booze cruises.
21:40 October 26, 2011 by skogsbo
not news, they ignore the massive problems with eastern block mafias and target the military, customs folk must be wimps for not going after the real problems.
21:47 October 26, 2011 by GLO
What a joke,shame on Sweden for this dumb ass policy.
22:40 October 26, 2011 by rise
@ StockholmSam

Bragging and barking cowboys cannot win over a people with a mind of the samurai. :P
22:43 October 26, 2011 by Vitas
@Investor612: In you we see how effective is US propaganda. Japan was last and not so important player in WWII. In that case USA ,like always, killed with nuclear bomb so many innocent people that I surprised that you can be proud for that.

Ok. Look here:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WWII And dont forget look here http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/f/f1/World_War_II_Casualties2.svg Only after that is stupid to tell: "US won WWII..."
23:08 October 26, 2011 by rise
@ Investor612

"The US was to an even greater degree the major factor in the defeat of Imperial Japan."

Yes, nuke the hell out of hundreds of thousands women and children!

"I can understand Swede's being ignorant about WWII. Their own history during the period isn't exactly inspiring."

To bad then that Swedish families didn't die as flies also! A lot of people from outside of Sweden seems to feel very disappointed over that fact.
01:06 October 27, 2011 by mcarroll1
This is so stupid. These airmen and women served abroad a tour of duty in defence of democracy and to support the freedom of the people of Libya to live as Swedes do. In return the state confiscates their presents for their wives and children (some wine and toys) They bought these goods in a duty free shop for soldiers serving in an operational theatre - they are not stolen, not drugs or trafficked children or women or boys. There is plenty of real work for these under employed customs officials that might save the hardpressed Swedish tax payer some real lost revenue or tax avoidance. Go after criminals smuggling in drugs, children and women and leave the fighting men and women - ordinary decent Swedes alone. Maybe they will gang up on the soldiers returning from Afghanistan too. These guys should be given an extra allowance so they can bring in a few presents to the families they left behind for six months while they represent the Swedish Government's foreign policy abroad at the sharp end - not enjoying fancy lunches in Brussels EU HQ
01:08 October 27, 2011 by tigger007
what does WW2 have to do with this article? like mosschops said it's the perks of the job!
03:39 October 27, 2011 by sjuttiosjusköterskorpåsjukhuset
When I read the headline to this story, I thought it was going to be about drug smuggling. Sweden should just be thankful it wasn't about drug smuggling involving their military recruits. So petty to be nit-picking about legal personal items: this practice is part and parcel to any nation's military personnel, it's a perk to their job. This is more of a reflection of the anally-retentive tax code of Sweden's government and not of these brave men and women who risk their lives while serving. Shame on you Sweden.
07:42 October 27, 2011 by Investor612
LOL. Someone thinks the number of casualties determines who won the war. I guess that means China won WWII. here's a clue, wars aren't won by people dying for their country. They're won by making other people die for theirs.He also engages in a dishonest strawman argument, claiming I said the US won WWII.

Someone else is all upset Japanese died instead of another quarter million US soldiers and countless numbers of civilians in the the territories Japan occupied.

Proud of Sweden's role because no Swedes perished? As though Hitler would have left Sweden alone if he had triumphed. But thanks to the blood of others, including my family, he didn't.
08:00 October 27, 2011 by Lenape
Soldiers, or airman, who go into combat for their country should not be subjected this nonsense. The Swedish governement has demonstrated time and time again that, it is not concerned with the long term welfare of the people, it is only concerned to look good to a imaginary universe of liberal do-gooders, who in fact, do not exist. This is the lastest example. Just look the other way for God's Sake. And be happy that someone risked their life for your sorry ass.
08:06 October 27, 2011 by rise
@ Lenape

Exactly! I agree completely.
09:20 October 27, 2011 by RobinHood
It's even worse than we first thought. Police are investigating an allegation that several members of the airforce have pet hedgehogs.
10:01 October 27, 2011 by Exiled
Shame on the military police. Go and do some real soldiering you losers.
10:56 October 27, 2011 by uunbeliever
Ha ha, Americans...yeah you "won" in Vietnam and Korea too right? Anyway, soldiers pillaging the spoils of war is a very long tradition. Are the soldiers selling the stuff? Who cares, I come back from trips with stuff in my suitcase all the time.
17:26 October 27, 2011 by jvtx3232
Why were they smuggling sandals?
16:47 October 28, 2011 by MitchT
I don't see the problem. If military transport can be used to bring back airmen's personal effects (and I see no other practical means), and these are personal effects, then what is their offence? Wine in the cockpit would be a problem; wine in the duffel bag, no problem at all.

My dad turned in his lovely leather bomber jacket when he was demobilized, just as he was ordered. As it happened, he later found out he was the only man in his crew to do so, and regretted it all his life. Some rules, especially in the military, are best left unenforced.
19:02 October 28, 2011 by Greekfan
I don't get this. The stuff was bought in Italy which, like Sweden, is part of the EU Single Market, so there should be no customs involvment. Unless each person had so many things that it was suspected that they were going to sell them. I assume that using military transpost for the goods is wrong but surely that is an internal military discipline matter.
05:40 October 29, 2011 by dunce
The customs people would never bothered about this but since some backstabber tipped them they had to go by the book. The scandal is that someone would stoop so low.
05:16 October 30, 2011 by waffen
Totally uncalled for activity by both the customs people and the MPs.

Military and Naval personnel have been doing this kind of activity as long as there have been Armies and Navies and Air Corps.

I knew a professor in college who had been an officer flying the "Hump" over the Himalayas who was jumped by Zero fighters and who bailed-out, thus letting the C 47 loaded from front to back with liquor for the officers go down, and who was later reprimanded by a General for abandoning the plane! That AC did not carry one essential military article in cargo, just crate upon crate of booze for the Officers Mess.

Personnel bringing home wine and toys and gifts for kid and family?

There is absolutely nothing wrong with that activity. That is part of the perks of being in uniform and serving.

I shipped by free military post within my two authorized trunks of hold package of personel and private effects a personal .45 Colt pistol, and dozens of other soldiers did likewise with other items. You just kept your mouth shut about just what you sent to avoid attention and informers .

This busy-body business with these Air Personnel who served in Libya via Italy, is way overboard. A poor way to honor the service of Sweden's service-members.
16:28 October 31, 2011 by bells on the knight
Seems no one here knows history. As General Patton said "our biggest ally is Hitler".

As for smuggling, america smuggled vast amounts of heroine from vietnam which led to the establishment of the "black" mafia of which subsequently a movie was made.
12:56 November 2, 2011 by BrittInSweden
Russia won WWII after Nazi Germany made the mistake of taking them on at the same time as fighting in the West.
18:03 November 2, 2011 by Tyrfing
Storm in a water glass..
04:13 November 4, 2011 by Pro Libertate
The SCANDAL is that they give these pilots a hard time over bringing home a few harmless goods.

Damn this government, which is soooo incredibly greedy that they go into shell-shock at the thought that someone could import electronic goods without paying a tax.

Taxes are EVIL, import taxes even more so. Government destroys society with its taxes and the entire redistribution BS.

Drop the case and prosecute those who opened private boxes instead.
13:34 November 6, 2011 by motti
Well pointed out, investor,

As a matter of interest, the NATO base at Sigonella, is just outside of Catania. It is in fact an American run naval air base. The "shop" in fact is a duty free commissary, or naval exchange. This is the same base from where U.S. personnel fought saving villages and towns threatened by Mt Etna erupted. I know, because I worked there many years ago.
08:13 December 2, 2011 by azcapi
What petty trivial nonsense. The Swedish military gives of itself for the benefit of Sweden and other nations of the world. It is customary to allow service members to transport personal property. If they purchased the items, they become personal property upon payment. The money hungry tax collectors in Sweden should have some respect for the service members sacrifices. Duty free means just that.
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