In one of Europe’s most intolerant countries when it comes to drug laws, a massive drug operation was dismantled Thursday. It’s the latest move in a series of efforts to curb drug traffic and organized crime in the country.
Swedish police say that on December 1, forces seized around 500 kilograms (1,102 pounds) of drugs in a city near Stockholm, with a total street value of about 80 million kronor or $7.6 million USD.
Police say that 260 kilograms (573 pounds)—the largest portion of drugs—was amphetamine, and the rest of the types of drugs were not specified.
In Tyreso, south of the Swedish capital Stockholm, three men were arrested on suspicion of serious drug offenses. Police also searched another house at a location in Tyreso where a massive trove of drugs was found in a storage room in an apartment building.
“This is a very large seizure,” Susanne Wikland, deputy chief in the Stockholm city police area, told The Associated Press. Wikland added that it was the result of “aggressive work over a longer period of time,” adding that drug traffic is “large and [expensive] serious organized crime.”
It follows a similar operation last month, when police in Stockholm detained 21 people and seized cocaine and cannabis with an estimated street value of between 50 and 100 million kronor, or $4.8 to $9.6 million USD.
This is bad news for the men involved, given Sweden’s particularly harsh stance on drugs: Transform Drug Policy Foundation reported that while cannabis and drug laws loosen in Europe—pretty much all around Sweden—the country maintains its zero tolerance policies.
“… The degree to which Sweden’s low prevalence of drug use can be attributed to its repressive approach is highly questionable, as research consistently shows that wider social, economic and cultural factors are the key drivers of drug prevalence—not the harshness of enforcement,” Transform Drug Policy Foundation writes.
Some organizations believe Sweden’s zero tolerance policy increases harm. Traveling performers like Drake learned this the hard way. It’s a stark difference from neighboring Denmark, which has experimented in the past with innovations like drug consumption rooms.
The country also isn’t too keen on medical cannabis. A recent study conducted by researchers from the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden attacked “positive coverage of cannabis” despite what they call poor results. In the study, researchers claimed that medical cannabis was no better for pain relief than a placebo, and suggested that medical cannabis is a myth.
But is Sweden’s strict approach to drug use even working? That’s debatable. And moreover, blow is especially popular in the Nordic country.
A study released by national broadcaster SVT found that cocaine in Sweden, over the years, has become more common, cheaper, and more pure. Forbes reports that the number of drug busts in general has increased by almost 300 percent since 2012, mirroring a rise in the number of drug busts by customs. In 2018, Swedish customs seized 485 kg of cocaine, mostly via two major seizures of 298 kg and 98 kg.
The report also reveals the drug has led to more deaths. According to data from the Swedish National Board of Forensic Medicine, cocaine was said to be the cause of death in 20 cases compared to just one a few years ago.
Sweden’s zero tolerance approach on drugs might affect alcohol consumption as well. College students in Sweden also report heavier drinking than U.S. college students, where drug laws have been loosened often.
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