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Customs 'not focused' on weapons smuggling

Customs 'not focused' on weapons smuggling

Published: 05 Jan 2012 12:40 GMT+01:00
Updated: 05 Jan 2012 12:40 GMT+01:00

"We have been mainly focusing on drugs," said Anders Trägårdh, head of operations at customs in Malmö, to daily newspaper Dagens Nyheter (DN).

The debate about the illegal smuggling of weapons has been given a new lease of life after a recent rise in violent crimes in the Malmö region.

But in the government directive given to the Swedish customs agency they are told to focus on drugs, alcohol and cigarettes in order to combat organized crime in the country, according to news agency TT.

Illegal weapons smuggling isn't mentioned in the directive, reported daily Svenska Dagbladet (SvD).

Today customs at the Öresund bridge have around 40 sniffer dogs trained to find drugs, but none especially trained to find weapons, unlike the county police with several dogs that can track both weapons and ammunition at their disposal.

And that weapons are brought in over the Öresund bridge is not news to the local police.

“Skåne is a prime spot for smuggling illegal weapons, so we are under extra pressure. We have asked for tighter regulations on smuggling for a long time,” said Lars Förstell, of the Skåne police to Svenska Dagbladet (SvD).

At least 200 weapons are being confiscated by the police in Malmö annually - but there has been no direct focus on stopping them from coming in to the country in the first place.

According to the Swedish National Police Board (Rikspolisstyrelsen) weapons are primarily being brought into the country from the Balkans in small consignments by land in buses or cars.

Trädgårdh doesn't want to call the fact that the customs only seized seven illegal weapons last year a failure.

"Considering the way the situation looks right now we wish we would have discovered more. But I don't want to use terms like 'failure'. We make a large number of controls and we are very successful when it comes to drugs and alcohol," said Trädgårdh to DN.

The customs will now select likely candidates among the drug sniffing dogs to be trained to sniff out weapons and ammunition.

However, according to experts there has to be more efficient cooperation between customs and police on both a domestic and an international level.

"Swedish authorities won't be able to combat the weapons smuggling on their own, but an extensive international cooperation must be in place," said Gunnar Wärnberg, illegal weapons expert at the National Police Board to DN.

Sven-Erik Alhem, the chairman of the Swedish National Association for Crime Victim Support (Brottsofferjourernas riksförbund) is critical that customs aren't making more weapons discoveries.

"Swedish customs have a key role in this. It is high time for them to change their focus. They should not abandon the drugs search, but I think they need to give weapons a higher priority," he said to DN.

Jenny Sundelin (jcsundelin@yahoo.co.uk)

Your comments about this article

12:47 January 5, 2012 by KungsholmenGuy
It is not up to Anders Trädgårdh to decide if terms like 'failure' are used to describe his work. The facts speak for themselves.

He should be ashamed of himself and resign, or at the very least put something in place in a way that is far more immediate than to now 'select likely candidates among the drug sniffing dogs to be trained to sniff out weapons and ammunition'.
14:27 January 5, 2012 by anniegother
Tobacco and alcohol are customs (TAX- MONEY) issues. Guns and drugs, which are strictly forbidden in this country are a quality of life issue. Having come from the bloodiest, drug infested society in the world (in my opinion), to the relative utopia of Sweden, I beg the Swedish government to wake up and take action NOW! Get some priorities NOW!To those who miss the Swedish days of old, watch out, this is only the tip of the iceberg. Malmö is starting to sound like Oakland, CA for gosh sakes.Customs, please get a new pair of glasses!
14:29 January 5, 2012 by engagebrain
Assuming all smuglling is over the bridge, 200 per annum are seized in Malmo, 7 on the bridge and there is little change from year to year, and all weapons end up in Malmo (unlikely) then 7 out of 207 or 3% are spotted by customs. With more a more realistic assumption, that smuggled weapons spread to the whole of Sweden, customs are finding almost none.
15:41 January 5, 2012 by matona1
puting severe penalties on any holder of weapons is far more important now,people getting killed like a chicken,i was not confortable when none of sweden citIies was not among of most peacefull cities in world,but now i know the reason,very simple NO CAPITAL PURNISHMENTS FOR ANY CRIME
15:45 January 5, 2012 by skogsbo
By the nature of sweden's land and coastline it will always be a little porous, but at the moment its a free for all. I've never seen dogs or searching at the bridge, im sat in CPH now, i bet no dogs get run through the train carriages either.

There was major moaning recently when the danes started checks on german border. The open access / schengen stuff is great for speedy travel but useless for border control.

The EU border is only as stronger as its weakest point of entry, which is pretty week, with countries like albania on eu borders access to anything is easy and only 1 border control away from the freedom of europe!
16:52 January 5, 2012 by zooeden
OK Smugglers, time is running fast, best way so far i through the trains, hurry hurry hurry while its free... And since the dogs are still to be trained that gives you an important advantage!!!

Total FAILURE from Trädgårdh!!! However so far it´s been the bad guys who kill eachother so...
17:44 January 5, 2012 by Borilla
A tunnel is being constructed to Denmark to make it easier to smuggle in guns. What exactly is going on? They move the guns aside so they can seize the cigarettes and booze?
23:38 January 5, 2012 by skogsbo
If the management had any sense, they would mention untrained dogs, just walk any dog around cars, trains, trucks.... Deterents are visual. No one would have known until now.
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