“This is big, really big for Swedish standards. Calling it a ‘record bust’ wouldn’t be wrong,” said Lars Hansson, narcotics expert at the Swedish Customs Service (Tullverket), to news agency TT.
The largest amount of hashish seized in Sweden to date was made at Öresund Bridge, between Sweden and Denmark, in September 2009, when a truck bearing 500 kilogrammes of the drug was stopped.
The two separate confiscations the 43 year-old has now been convicted of, 87.5 kilos and 392.5 kilos, are in the same ballpark.
Lars Hansson explains that the uncommonly large amount of hashish, as well as the fact that the 43 year-old is considered to be the brain behind the smuggling ring, is most likely what resulted in the law’s strictest punishment.
“If it’s established that organised crime is behind the smuggling, consequences are usually more severe.”
The man is convicted of aggravated drug offenses, and aggravated drug smuggling, and will also be deported from Sweden for life.
The value of the drugs is estimated to more than 30 million kronor ($4.7 million) on the street. Two couriers have previously been sentenced to ten and eight years in prison, respectively, for the smuggling.
Malmö district court, in southern Sweden, wrote on Thursday that the 43 year-old has taken part in “two runs of vast quantities of drugs”. According to the court, he’s been the facilitator at the heart of the operation, coordinating contacts with couriers, and given them instructions during transport.
The penal value of each of the smuggling crimes is ten years in prison. The severity of the crimes as well as the man’s apparent leading role made the court sentence him to the longest possible prison time, 14 years.
Since he lacks ties to Sweden, and cannot be considered to suffer in his home country if deported, the decision to deport him does not shorten his time in prison.
After having served his sentence he will be forbidden from ever returning to Sweden.
2011 has been a busy year for Swedish customs officials. Nearly twice the amount of drugs has been confiscated during the first six months of the year, compared with the same periods in 2010 and 2009.
1,781 confiscations, mainly of cannabis and narcotics-classed medicines, have been made between January and June, according to news agency TT.