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North Korean diplomats' smuggling scheme up in smoke

TT/Christine Demsteader · 20 Nov 2009, 11:49

Published: 20 Nov 2009 11:49 GMT+01:00

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The pair, a man and a woman in their 50s, were stopped and arrested on Wednesday while driving through central Stockholm in a private car.

“They drove from Russia to Helsinki and had taken a ferry across from there," Monika Magnusson, spokesperson for Swedish Customs (Tullverket), told newspaper Expressen.

A huge stash of cigarettes was found stuffed between passenger seats as well as in the boot of the vehicle.

As there was evidence to show that the tobacco booty has been purchased in Russia, customs officers were immediately able to arrest both parties who unsuccessfully tried to plead a case of diplomatic immunity.

According to newspaper Expressen, the diplomats are based in Russia and the North Korean embassy in Stockholm denies all knowledge of the incident.

The Swedish foreign ministry admits it is aware that arrests have been made but has refused to make any further comment on the case.

Story continues below…

The car and its contents have been seized and police have conducted a first round of questioning but have not been able to establish where the diplomats were intending to travel with the cigarettes.

TT/Christine Demsteader (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

12:30 November 20, 2009 by wabasha
communist plot up in smoke! sorry, just had to
14:04 November 20, 2009 by Nemesis
Makes a change form them smuggling forged Euros and forged dollars.
16:27 November 20, 2009 by spy
These Koreans smoke alot, perhaps they were for personal use.
16:57 November 20, 2009 by GefleFrequentFlyer
You mean the customs actually stopped and inspected someone?

I was under the impression you could haul unlimted amounts of cocaine, dead hookers and other contraband through Arlanda or any ferry terminal given the non-existant security.
19:24 November 20, 2009 by Thompsuleme
ha ha, they need the extra buck! it doesnt really pay much for them u know.
21:49 November 20, 2009 by spy
I think it is pretty poor show by the Swedes. It has always been a perk of the job to stick a little contraband in the diplomatic bag.
23:53 November 20, 2009 by Bushido
This was only 115 cartons of cigarettes. I've seen people bring more in than this for personal use.

I think we can assume that the diplomats were suspected of carrying something far more important, and that this was merely a smoke-screen to facilitate the arrests....
01:17 November 21, 2009 by crofab
I like your thinking, Bushido.
01:54 November 21, 2009 by 2394040
Maybe they just need a pay raise?????
02:53 November 21, 2009 by Weekend_warrior
I think they have immunity regardless...should just shot'em and ran!! haha, just kidding.
04:02 November 21, 2009 by Greg in Canada
I'm glad to hear they've been held, but doesn't "diplomatic immunity" protect them from charges. Maybe after this their next diplomatic assignment will be in either Afghanistan or Siberia.
02:09 November 23, 2009 by wotist
The have diplomatic immunity in Russia, where they are stationed - not in Sweden where they are just visiting.

@Bushido: 230,000 cigarettes = 1150 cartons or 11500 packs of smoke. Still, you may be correct in your assumption.
05:23 November 23, 2009 by Bushido
@Wotist: Thanks for redoing the maths properly for me, I missed a zero there!

The article states the diplomats were in a "private car" and had the smokes stashed in the boot and between the passenger seats. So it still doesn't sound like they were trying to hide the 'contraband' that much.

Interesting that the Cold War has never gone away, but simply takes on a different face over time.....
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