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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

‘Hash baron’ admits to drug smuggling

A 46-year-old Norwegian living in the affluent Oslo suburb of Bærum has admitted to smuggling 100 shipments of hash into Norway over the last 22 years, but claims all the money he earned has been lost. Police, however, believe Gjermund Cappelen has stashed his wealth abroad.

Immigrants often get the blame for bringing drugs to Norway, but in this case, it’s a white, middle-aged man who’s under indictment for organizing a major narcotics crime network, storing drugs and selling at least 1.3 tons of hash. Police claim he must pay the state NOK 54 million in earnings from the network’s operations, and court records indicate the actual amount of hash brought into Norway may be 20 times as large as the amount for which he’s indicted. He’s due in court next month.

Veteran police officer charged as well
Newspaper Aftenposten reported Thursday that Cappelen’s alleged network also includes a wide range of seemingly ordinary Norwegians, with indictments filed against a plumber from western Oslo, a nurse’s aide and a soft drink seller from suburban Rykkin. Cappelen’s wife from Bekkestua in Bærum and his 27-year-old son from Sandvika are also charged but not indicted.

All told, at least 13 people are charged in the drug case, eight of them indicted. Cappelen has told police that his import of hash into Norway was made possible because of his alleged cooperation with veteran police officer Eirik Jensen, who’s also been charged and under investigation himself since February of last year. Jensen denies any criminal guilt and has claimed that Cappelen was merely his informant.

Police have put a great deal of resources into the case against Cappelen, and also have questioned contacts in Switzerland and the US. Cappelen had been under surveillance for several years before he was arrested in December 2013, after police became aware of several large shipments of hash.

Seizures include a Munch painting, 367 kilos of hash
Aftenposten reported that police believe Cappelen has earned at least NOK 125 million on the alleged drug dealing. Cappelen claims all the money has been lost through high consumption and poor investments.

Court documents in the case that earlier had been sealed now indicate that the court believes Cappelen has instead placed large portions of his alleged drug fortune abroad, referring to a large, luxury villa in Thailand and claims made by cooperative partners in Switzerland and the US. Among items seized in raids on Cappelen’s home are watches worth NOK 2 million, NOK 5 million in cash and a painting by artist Edvard Munch.

Prosecutors won’t detail more than what’s listed in the defendant’s indictment, but note that he’s charged under Norway’s “mafia paragraph,” which implies a form of structure and organization among those indicted. Berglund



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