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Customs uncovered large-scale smuggling of narcotic medicines in Tornio

Publication date 18.6.2024 8.25
Press release

Customs has investigated two aggravated narcotics offences involving suspected smuggling of large amounts of medicines classified as narcotics for sale in Finland during 2021–2024. The street value of the substances is over 800 000 euros.

In late winter–early spring 2024, Customs seized narcotics medicines in Tornio on two separate occasions. First, in February 2024, Customs seized around 265 000 alprazolam and benzodiazepine tablets from a person who had arrived in Finland in a passenger car. A second smuggler was caught in late March, when Customs found narcotic medicines hidden in the walls of a van driven by the smuggler. Customs seized a total of around 180 000 clonazepam and alprazolam tablets from the van.

“The medicine quantities we found this spring are considerable compared to last year, when Customs seized a total of 431 000 tablets of narcotic medicines during the whole year,” says Pekka Jauhola, lead investigator at Customs’ investigation unit in Tornio.

Narcotic medicines typically arrive in Finland in heavy goods traffic and postal consignments, but also in passenger traffic.

Investigation uncovered a wider series of offences

The criminal investigation of these two cases has involved investigating several previous smuggling offences also involving large amounts of narcotic medicines. In the case of one of the apprehended suspects, the investigation also uncovered a suspected aggravated narcotics offence where smuggled narcotics medicines had been sold to users in 2022. The medicines had been sold in southern Finland via an instant messaging platform, among other methods.

The narcotic medicines seized in 2024 and the previous smuggled quantities uncovered by the investigation add up to a total of about 1 500 000 tablets with a street value of about 800 000 euros. The medicines were mainly alprazolam and clonazepam.

“We got on the trail of the smugglers thanks to Customs’ professional and efficient enforcement team. Tornio is a key route for narcotics smuggled from Sweden to Finland, but the customs control works efficiently on Finland’s busiest land border,” Jauhola summarises.

Two Romanian citizens have been held during the investigation and they are still being held on remand. The investigation has involved international cooperation in the form of requests for legal assistance, among other measures. The cases have been investigated as aggravated narcotics offences. The set of suspected offences has been forwarded to the Prosecution District of Northern Finland for consideration of charges.

Media release