Police crack drug smuggling network

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Norwegian police, acting on tips from colleagues in Denmark, have seized more than 500 kilos of hash and NOK 3 million in cash after cracking what’s believed to be a major drug smuggling network. They also made several arrests after tracking suspects to shopping center garages in Oslo.

“This is a case of considerable scope, which extends to several countries and several police districts in Norway,” Espen Hanken, an attorney at state police unit Kripos, told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) on Friday.

Scandinavian suspects
The arrests and seizures are the result of a lengthy investigation into narcotics transport from Spain, through Europe and to Norway, reported NRK. Danish police had been tracking Danish suspects believed to be behind the transport across the European continent, later handing off the hash to Norwegian accomplices like those arrested in a dramatic and fatal drug bust in northern Denmark last winter.

A total of 18 persons have been charged in the case so far, including Norwegians living in Arendal on Norway’s south coast and in Hedmark County in southeastern Norway. One of the Norwegians from Hedmark was arrested in Thailand in a luxurious home that police believe was financed with money from the drug smuggling operation.

They’re all believed to be part of the narcotics network that’s been distributing hash all over the country. Two Danes and two Swedes are also charged in the case, and police said they weren’t surprised that so many Scandinavians were involved. “We have cases with foreign smugglers but we also know that many Norwegians are involved,” Reidar Bruusgaard, investigation leader at Kripos, told NRK.

Parking garage exchanges
Several of the arrests were made as suspects met and exchanged large quantities of hash in the parking garages of shopping centers in Oslo, including Storo Storsenter on the city’s north side and Byporten adjacent to Oslo’s main train station. Several persons were also arrested in a parking garage at Alexander Kiellands Plass in Oslo.

“The seizure of well over 500 kilos (of hash) is a lot by Norwegian standards,” Bruusgaard told NRK. By comparison, the total amount of seizures of hash, marijuana and cannabis plants during all of last year amounted to 2,029 kilos.

The investigation into the network is continuing, with international warrants out for more suspects. Police said the hash originated in Morocco before it was carried to Spain, from where the Scandinavian smugglers transported it further by truck to Denmark and on to Norway.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund

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