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CRIME

Cannabis worth millions seized at Swedish port

A major drugs bust in Sweden has resulted in police seizing 300 kilograms of cannabis with an estimated value of millions of dollars.

Cannabis worth millions seized at Swedish port
A file photo of a Swedish police cannabis find not related to the story. Photo: Polisen

Two men were arrested last week after driving off a ferry from Gdynia in Poland to Karlskrona in southern Sweden. Almost 300kg of cannabis was found in their truck, Swedish public service broadcaster SVT reports.

According to a Swedish Customs Agency (Tullverket) estimation, the haul could be worth as much as 30 million kronor ($3.39 million).

“There's clearly a smuggling network out there that will be really annoyed about this right now. We’re talking about a large sum of money,” Sven-Petr Ohlsson from Tullverket told SVT.

The bust is one of the biggest drug finds in Sweden in recent years, and follows a pattern shared by previous examples.

In 2012, 400kg of cannabis was found by Tullverket in a truck at the port in Helsingborg in the southwest of the country. That stash was estimated to be worth 40 million kronor ($4.52 million).

“It’s organized smuggling where trucks that come to Sweden work like Trojan horses. They hide in the flood of traffic that occurs when for example a ferry comes in. It was one such Trojan horse that we stopped in this example from Karlskrona,” Ohlsson explained.

The two men who were on the truck have been remanded in custody accused of serious drug smuggling, and more people are expected to be called for questioning.

Though Sweden has a reputation for being a progressive nation, it is strict when it comes to illicit drugs. In July 2015, two men were jailed for a combined five and a half years for growing around 31 kg of marijuana in a disused school building.

That same month, US rapper Snoop Dogg was arrested on suspicion of using illegal drugs after a concert in Uppsala. The investigation into him was later dropped, despite Swedish police saying he had tested positive for narcotics, because it was not possible to prove that he consumed drugs on Swedish soil.

CRIME

Sweden breaks yearly record for fatal shootings

A man was shot to death in Kristianstad, Skåne, late on Thursday night. He is the 48th person to be shot dead in Sweden this year, meaning that the previous record for most fatal shootings in one year set in 2020 has now been broken.

Sweden breaks yearly record for fatal shootings

“Unfortunately we can’t say more than that he’s in his twenties and we have no current suspects,” duty officer Mikael Lind told TT newswire.

According to police statistics, this most recent deadly shooting means that 48 people have been shot to death in 2022, meaning that Sweden has broken a new record for deadly shootings per year.

Earlier this week, Sweden’s police chief Anders Thornberg said that this number is likely to rise even higher before the end of the year.

“It looks like we’re going to break the record this year,” he told TT on Tuesday. “That means – if it continues at the same pace – around 60 deadly shootings.”

“If it ends up being such a large increase that would be very unusual,” said Manne Gerell, criminiologist at Malmö University.

“We saw a large increase between 2017 and 2018, and we could see the same now, as we’re on such low figures in Sweden. But it’s still worrying that it’s increasing by so much over such a short time period,” he said.

There also seems to be an upwards trend in the number of shootings overall during 2022. 273 shootings had occured by September 1st this year, compared with 344 for the whole of 2021 and 379 for the whole of 2020.

If shootings continue at this rate for the rest of 2022, it is likely that the total number for the year would be higher than 2021 and 2020. There are, however, fewer injuries.

“The majority of shootings cause no injuries, but this year, mortality has increased substantially,” Gerell explained. “There aren’t more people being shot, but when someone is shot, they’re more likely to die.”

Thursday’s shooting took place in Kristianstad, but it’s only partially true that deadly gun violence is becoming more common in smaller cities.

“It’s moved out somewhat to smaller cities, but we’re overexaggerating that effect,” Gerell said. “We’re forgetting that there have been shootings in other small cities in previous years.”

A report from the Crime Prevention Council (Brå) presented last spring showed that Sweden, when compared with 22 different countries in Europe, was the only one with an upwards trend for deadly shootings.

Temporary increases can be seen during some years in a few countries, but there were no countries which showed such a clear increase as Sweden has seen for multiple years in a row, according to Brå.

The Swedish upwards trend for deadly gun violence began in the beginning of the 2000s, but the trend took off in 2013 and has continued to increase since.

Eight of ten deadly shootings take place in criminal environments, the study showed. The Swedish increase has taken place in principle only among the 20-29 year old age group.

When police chief Anders Thornberg was asked how the trend can be broken, he said that new recruitments are one of the most important factors.

“The most important thing is to break recruitment, make sure we can listen encrypted and that we can get to the profits of crime in a better way,” he said.

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