Police in Bergen started their long holiday weekend by announcing the city’s biggest cocaine bust ever. In addition to seizing relatively large quantities of the drug, they arrested around 40 people including parents of small children, a day care worker and even an employee of the state child protective services (barnevernet).
“Several of those we have arrested have professional roles in the community that make it even worse for them to be caught with cocaine,” Tom Throndsen of the Bergen police told bt.no. “Many of them we have nabbed are really shaken now.”
Throndsen has been leading the investigation and subsequent raids that led to the arrests of persons entirely different from those normally caught in drug busts.
No earlier police records
Most of them have full-time jobs, officials said, many involving work with children and youth. One of them, a 34-year-old male, works for the Bufetat arm of the state child protective services agency. He was caught with 20 grams of cocaine which he admitted he intended to sell.
Others worked as a security guard and as a social worker, while another has been employed in a local kindergarten. An offshore oil worker, a student, a cook, a photographer and a disc jockey were also among those being held.
Police described the cocaine market in Bergen as one that was “locked up” and difficult to penetrate. “Persons in these circles aren’t typical drug abusers,” said prosecutor Rudolph Christoffersen. “Most of those we’ve arrested have never been involved in police investigations before.”
Their investigation started last winter with the arrest of a 37-year-old asylum seeker who was caught with 100 grams of cocaine and NOK 350,000 in cash in a suitcase. “We decided to look more closely at the network around him,” Christoffersen said.
Coke hidden in milk cartons
The police probe ultimately led to 22 seizures of a total of 775 grams of cocaine, more than police in Hordaland County seized in all of 2008 and 2009, reported Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) and newspaper Bergens Tidende.
The biggest seizure was made in the home of a 33-year-old poker player, where they found large quantities of cocaine hidden in milk cartons.
Police suspect the coke trade in Bergen is run by Nigerians from abroad, and the Nigerian prostitutes carry much of the cash out of Norway. One woman was caught with NOK 1.7 million in cash, believed to come from cocaine sales.