A long-running major drug investigation in the Lillehammer region led to charges against 60 people on Wednesday. Police said most were aged between 16 and 22 years, and many were vulnerable, unwilling participants.
Most of the young buyers and users arrested had built up debts, reported Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK). Lillehammer Police Chief Bjørn Bergundhaugen said many of them had faced serious violence and threats, and in some cases parents paid large sums of money to protect their children.
“If the debt was not paid on time, it changed randomly with respect to size, and always became significantly larger than the original debt,” said Bergundhaugen. “You can imagine that a 16-year-old exposed to this type of pressure is very vulnerable. I would say many of the young people have been greatly influenced by what they have experienced.”
Drug debt was also linked to increased robberies in Lillehammer. The drug trade mainly involved cannabis, pills and cocaine.
Three people suspected of leading the drug ring were arrested between November 2013 and February this year. They were charged with drug dealing, gross proceeds of crime, violence and intimidation. The network is still under investigation, and police have not ruled out the possibility of more charges being laid. The case is expected to go to trial in autumn.