"1,000 people took drugs" on Silja party boat
The Local · 28 Feb 2005, 23:57
Published: 28 Feb 2005 23:57 GMT+01:00
At least 1,000 people onboard the 'Silja Festival' were said to have taken drugs during the 24 hour round trip to Åbo. But for many it turned out to be a bad trip.
Among the revellers were plain-clothes officers from Stockholm police's youth section. They were taking part in a joint operation with the city's 'bar commission' and customs.
"We had gone through the passenger lists and saw that there were many people with a criminal past," said Manne Jönsson, head of the police youth section. "Many of them also have a record of drugs offences in various forms."
The crossing was organised by a company called Monday Bar, which describes itself as "Sweden's oldest association for house, techno and trance".
"We've had an eye on them for a long time," Manne Jönsson told Dagens Nyheter.
"They've arranged similar gatherings once every three months. On several occasions we've seen that there's been a lot of drug abuse onboard and the last few times we've had information that it's been absolutely crazy."
One man in his twenties had smuggled drugs onto the ferry by stuffing them in condoms which he swallowed. Not long into the voyage he began to feel ill and, fearing that the condoms had split, he visited the ship's doctor. He was flown back to land by air ambulance.
After X-raying the man, doctors reported seeing several 'foreign objects' in his stomach. While waiting for nature to take its course, he admitted to police that the condoms were full of ecstasy tablets.
Police also found cocaine, LSD and magic mushrooms on the ferry. 33 people are suspected of drugs offences, mostly possession and use of illegal substances. All except one were allowed to go home after being interviewed by police in the terminal building at Värtahamn.
However, many of the passengers disputed the police's assessment of the level of drug use onboard. They told reporters - anonymously - that the vast majority of people were just drinking and expressed annoyance that "a bunch of druggies ruined it for the rest of us".
But Manne Jönsson told DN that police officers "who are used to working these environments and who regularly make judgements about patterns of drug use" had reported that around half of the revellers were taking drugs.
"It's not an exact number but an estimate which I consider to be well-grounded," he said.
On Monday Silja Line announced that it had decided to end the co-operation with Monday Bar.
"We charter out boats and it is a shame that we are associated with this sort of thing," said Ulf Samuelsson, head of security at Silja Line. "Therefore we have cancelled this arrangement with Monday Bar."
"It is important for us to review the organisers we work with," he told Swedish Radio.