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Swedish customs made record drug busts in 2017

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Swedish customs made record drug busts in 2017
The biggest finds were made when searching trucks crossing the border. Photo: Christine Olsson/TT
12:38 CET+01:00
Swedish customs officers seized a record amount of drugs last year, due largely to a number of large-volume drug-trafficking busts, but also because the demand for especially cannabis and amphetamine remains high.

Some 400 kilograms of marijuana and 2,000 kilograms of hash were seized in 2017, compared with just 1,385 kilograms of cannabis products in 2016 and 411 kilograms in 2015.

The customs agency said the number of busts had only increased by 5 percent, from 6,355 in 2016 to 6,679 in 2017, but that the volumes of them had soared. The biggest finds were made while searching trucks crossing the border. In March last year, for example, customs officers found 600 kilograms of hash stashed in one single truck.

"We have made a number of really large seizures in the heavy vehicle traffic during 2017 where the volumes can be counted in hundreds of kilograms of narcotics per bust," Lars Kristoffersson, head of the agency's law enforcement unit, said.

"This explains the increase in cannabis [products] and amphetamine. The phenomenon of large-volume trafficking is not something new, but we have improved our ability to detect it in heavy vehicle traffic."

Therese Mattson, the general director of the Swedish Customs agency, said that although the large amount of drugs seized underscores an improvement in the agency's methods, it also shows that Sweden's drug consumption remains high.

"It's pleasing to see that the efforts we are making are giving us results, and that we're making the right priorities in our control operations. At the same time, I can't help feeling concerned. Partly because there is a strong demand for narcotics in society, but also the capacity that some criminal groups obviously seem to have when it comes to organizing and managing large-scale trafficking," she said in a statement.

The volumes of cocaine seized also rose heavily year-on-year, by 98 percent to a total of 97 kilograms, methamphetamine by 43 percent to 21 kilograms, and heroine by 20 percent to 37 kilograms.

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