UPDATED: Police in Oslo have revealed how they lured a group of armed, professional criminals to drive their drug-laden car right into a police trap earlier this year. The raid in early September netted about 170 kilograms of narcotics, more than NOK 1 million (USD 164,000) in cash and several guns.
The smugglers used a high-powered Mercedes to transport the drugs from the Netherlands to Norway, newspaper Aftenposten reported. A 36-year-old Bosnian former rally driver was behind the wheel, and the number plates were switched as the car traveled between countries.
Undercover police monitored the car on its way to Oslo, photographing the gang members at a petrol station outside Moss. Up to 70 police officers were waiting to bust the gang when they reached their meeting place at a hotel garage in Sjølyst.
“We exercised control the whole time,” said Einar Aas, chief of Oslo police’s organized crime division. “There has been extensive police cooperation across national borders.”
Aas told Aftenposten while there’s nothing to hide, he can’t give details on the year-long operation tracking the “unusually professional” smugglers. “The case is still under investigation. The main point for us was that this had relevance to gangs in Oslo. The case is a result of skilled police officers having worked long and hard.”
Among the 10 people arrested include the suspected mastermind, a 45-year-old Bergen man. Six people remained in custody at the end of December.
Largest khat bust
Meanwhile, customs officers at Svinesund near the Swedish border have made Norway’s largest ever seizure of the illegal narcotic plant, khat. More than half a ton of the drug was discovered on Friday in a Swedish-registered van. The driver, aged in his 40s, escaped from border guards but was tracked down by police with sniffer dogs, reported Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK). Officials also stopped a second car carrying 142 kilograms of khat, taking the day’s record-breaking bust to a total of 666 kilograms.
“This seizure is the largest we have ever done,” said Wenche Fredriksen from the Svinesund office. “The previous record was 383 kilos, so this was an incredible amount of khat.” Before Friday’s haul, Norwegian authorities had already seized 12 tons of khat this year, up from eight tons found last year.
Another major drug bust in late October saw police arrest 74 people over three days, mostly between the ages of 18 and 23. The series of raids around Øvre Romerike, northeast of Oslo uncovered hash, cocaine, marijuana, amphetamines, smuggled liquor and cash, and stolen goods.