Norwegian police have arrested and charged more than 140 people over the past two years in coordinated operations directed at what they call the “criminal Lithuanian milieu” in Norway. Most of the cases now involve the production and smuggling of amphetamines.
Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported Monday evening that those charged include both Norwegian and Lithuanian citizens caught in one of the largest police operations ever mounted in Norway.
“Lithuanian criminals form one of the groups that pose the most serious threat to Norway, there’s no doubt about that,” Eivind Borge, leader of tactical investigations for the state police crime unit Kripos told NRK.
Kripos’ latest report on criminal trends in 2015 noted that Lithuanians are overrepresented in cases involving organized vinningskriminalitet (theft, burglary, fraud, blackmail, swindle and receiving stolen property) along with smuggling and human trafficking. Kripos reports that Lithuanians are now also among the biggest players in the Norwegian amphetamines market.
“We have registered that many of those who earlier committed crimes like burglary and fraud have now moved over to the narcotics trade,” Borge said.
Surveillance operations led to arrests, seizures
The police revealed details of what they called “Operation Litas,” which involved 22 of Norway’s 27 police districts and targeted the drug trade. Lithuanian dealers and their Norwegian customers were unaware they were under surveillance, often by police helicopters that captured video of drug dealing at highway rest stops. Police have seized around 140 kilos of amphetamines and around 400,000 tablets.
Norwegian and Lithuanian police have also cooperated in the coordinated operations that have led to arrests and seizures.
“It’s important to stress that the vast majority of Lithuanians in Norway are honest and hard-working,” Borge said. “Unfortunately, a consequence of the labour migration we’ve seen has also been a lot more crime.” Lithuanians also make up the largest single group of foreign criminals in Norwegian prisons, reported NRK.