“We are completely dependent on colleagues in other countries,” said Bertil Olofsson at the Swedish National Bureau of Investigation, NBV, (Rikskriminalen) to newspaper Sydsvenskan.
Close to 300 people, most of them men, are currently wanted for different crimes committed in Sweden.
The prosecutors, who have issued a warrant for their arrest, can do nothing else than wait and hope that they will be found by authorities in the countries they are hiding.
“The arm of the law is long and generally in the end it gets there,” said Lars Morand at the Malmö prosecution chamber to the paper.
A few years ago, in order to make the search easier, the NBV created the “most wanted” list, known as the Ikaros list, an official document listing Sweden’s most wanted men and women.
“The idea behind the list is to make clear that there are people who should not be at large and to receive help from the general public to find them,” Olofsson told the paper.
The Local wrote in November about a Malmö resident suspected of murdering a 31-year-old gang leader in an office belonging to a taxi company.
According to Sydsvenskan, the man is believed to be at large abroad but despite the police having clear indications as to his whereabouts, they have not managed to get him arrested and extradited.
Apart from the Malmö resident, the newest name on the list is a 64-year-old man from southern Sweden, wanted for a series of arsons.
His last known whereabouts were when he was spotted driving over the Öresund Bridge, connecting Sweden to Denmark, and his car was later found in Italy, according to the paper.
However, to search for wanted criminals abroad is generally a lengthy process and criminals with the right connections and access to money can keep under the radar for long periods of time.
This is especially the case if they are in hiding in countries that lack an extradition agreement with Sweden, according to Olofsson.
“Sooner or later most are apprehended but in order to be successful we need help,” he said.
Olofsson told Sydsvenskan that he thinks that the international cooperation could improve in future with more criminals being extradited to Sweden.
”Today we are about thirty countries that actively have a special group to deal with those wanted internationally. It is a cooperation which develops year by year. Over time, it should get harder to keep hidden,” he told the paper.
According to new figures from the NBV for 2011, 94 people were arrested abroad after warrants having been filed for their arrests in Sweden, while 181 people wanted in other countries were arrested in Sweden during the same period of time.
For 2010 the corresponding figures were 77 and 141. In total this is an increase of about 25 percent.