White powder covers Sweden

There was bad news for the Swedish phalanx of TV presenters, pop stars and advertising executives this week. Cocaine, the narcotic of choice for endless minor celebs, seems to be losing its exclusivity.

After many years as the preserve of the well-off, it appears that “criminals and normal Svens” have discovered the pleasures of powdering their noses, reported Monday’s DN. Until the late nineties, there were only about 100 cocaine seizures per year in Sweden, the paper reported, a figure that rose last year to a record 539 seizures.

“It has become much more common, both within and outside of bar culture,” said Jörgen Nilsson of Stockholm Police’s bar and pub commission.

Among criminal sorts, it appears that the high price of cocaine has made it something of a status symbol.

“Everyone knows that it’s a pricey drug,” explained Inspector Fredrik Bornesand. Indeed, a gram of cocaine costs between 700 and 900 crowns, claims DN.

Among the ‘normal’ Swedes awaiting trial for cocaine-related crimes are a broadband installer, a system administrator and a number of bouncers. All of them are men, and most of them are in their mid-twenties, the paper said.

This being Sweden, experts have been quick to blame the devil drink for the rise in drug use: “Alcohol and cocaine go together,” Jörgen Nilsson explained to DN.

“People lose their judgement when they drink” he added, “and do things that they otherwise wouldn’t have done.”

Increased demand has made bringing ‘snow’ to Sweden a more lucrative proposition, and one that has enticed a new breed of Swede into smuggling. DN reported that in the last month alone, three Swedes have been caught abroad with large quantities of the sought-after narcotic. All of them were in their early twenties, and according to the Swedish foreign office, none of them appeared to have a criminal background.

“The cocaine trade used to be dominated by South Americans,” said Bo Delberger at the State Criminal Department, “but now we see all sorts of people, who are attracted by the possibility of making huge profits.”

It is not just imports of cocaine that are on the up – further down the distribution chain, there seem to be plenty of ordinary Swedes peddling cocaine to the masses. And rather than big-time dealers, the culprits are often ‘ordinary’ users, who sell their supplies on to their friends to finance their habits, according to Jörgen Nilsson.

Other drugs are also giving Sweden’s police force a headache. The Supreme Court has been hearing the appeal of a 24-year old who had been sentenced to four-and-a half years in jail for possession of 788 ecstasy tablets, reported Svenska Dagbladet. The 24-year old’s lawyer said that the sentence was too harsh, as he had only been “keeping the pills for a friend”, and had not been involved in selling them.

The court agreed, and reduced his sentence by two years.