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Sweden-Norway beer smuggling hits record levels

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Sweden-Norway beer smuggling hits record levels
The Sweden-Norway border on the old Svinesund Bridge. Photo: Heiko Junge/NTB Scanpix
18:06 CEST+02:00
Norwegian customs officers at the Svinesund border between Sweden and Norway have seized more beer and spirits during the first half of 2017 than in the whole of last year.

Unroadworthy vehicles used for smuggling purposes have also been seized, according to a report by P4 Väst.

“There has clearly been a trend in the first half of the year towards a quite large increase in the confiscation of both beer and spirits,” Per Kristian Grandahl, head of the Svinesund customs office, told the Swedish radio broadcaster.

Two bridges – the Old and New Svinesund bridges – span the Iddefjord, connecting Sweden’s Bohuslän province with the Norwegian county of Østfold.

The crossing is popular with Norwegians, with many thousands crossing each month to buy relatively cheap goods on the Swedish side.

Over 140,000 litres of beer and 20,000 litres of spirits were confiscated by Norwegian customs at Svinesund from January to July this year.

The figures represent a 40 percent increase in confiscations of beer and twice as much seized spirits as during the corresponding period last year.

Grandahl said that his customs unit had “surely never confiscated so much beer before”.


The two Svinesund bridges on the Norway-Sweden border at Iddefjorden. Photo: Cornelius Poppe/NTB Scanpix

Organised crime might be one reason behind the apparent spike in smuggling, according to Grandahl.

“It is expensive to buy [alcohol] in shops and organised criminals import beer and spirits on a large scale,” he told P4 Väst.

READ ALSO: Woman caught smuggling gold, khat and cash on Denmark-Norway ferry

In addition to confiscations of alcoholic beverages, customs police have also seized vehicles modified for smuggling.

Changes to made to the vehicles are so extensive they become road hazards, according to the report.

Several such vehicles have been impounded by police in Sweden’s Bohuslän province.

“We often seize cars and trucks that have been tampered with, for example the shock absorbers and suspension, making them unroadworthy. We take in a significant number of such vehicles,” Grandahl said.

Confiscation of certain types of narcotics, including ecstasy and amphetamines, has also increased, while seizure of cannabis has dropped slightly.

“In general, it seems that there is a steady increase in all types of smuggling across the border at Svinelund, and that also seems to be the case with the confiscations made by Swedish customs further south in Sweden,” Grandahl said to P4 Väst.

Swedish customs only releases confiscation statistics on an annual basis. 

READ ALSO: 'Cocaine bananas' worth millions earn Swede and American jail terms

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