Customs uncovered more than 6 600 customs offences in 2020 – the societal impact of crime prevention was significant
In 2020, more than 6 600 customs offences were uncovered. The societal impact of customs crime prevention was around 57 million euros. Customs seized almost 770 kg of narcotics. A large amount of nicotine preparations was seized. In 2020, Customs also seized a record amount of snus and more marijuana than in a decade.
The number of customs offences was at its lowest in five years in 2020. This was especially due to the exceptional Corona year and the fact that Customs made a significant intervention in the online trade of narcotics.
“The decrease of the total amount of customs offences is mainly due to two things. First of all, Customs managed to uncover and close down a significant amount of illegal trading venues operating in the Tor network, such as Sipulimarket and Silkkitie. When these large illegal trading venues were closed down, the amount of small narcotics consignments sent directly to the consumer-purchaser decreased considerably. Secondly, the international passenger traffic plummeted because of the Corona virus restrictions, and therefore the amount of customs offences uncovered in the passenger traffic also decreased, says Director of Investigation Mr Sami Rakshit at Finnish Customs.
The societal impact of customs crime prevention remained significant
The societal impact of customs crime prevention varies each year. In 2020, the impact was around 57 million euros, and in 2019, it was around 70 million euros. The change was largely due to the decrease in the amount of aggravated tax frauds. Most of the societal impact, 26 million euros, consisted of recovered proceeds of crime. The most significant part of the impact of economic crime prevention consisted of losses due to the investigated criminal cases, altogether 10 million euros in 2020.
Decrease in the number of tax frauds
In 2020, Customs uncovered 917 cases of tax fraud, of which 98 were aggravated. This is less than in 2019, when there were 1 362 tax frauds and 149 aggravated tax frauds. The cases of aggravated tax fraud classified as economic offences mainly involved illegal import of cigarettes, alcohol and snus as well as fraud in connection with excise duties, value added tax, anti-dumping duties and customs warehousing. The cases of petty fraud decreased especially due to the decrease in the passenger traffic.
Record amount of snus seized
Customs seized a total of 7 011 kg of snus in 2020, which is roughly 2 000 kg more than the year before, and the biggest amount ever. The bigger snus consignments were smuggled to the Finnish market mainly over the land border in northern Sweden, but seizures were also made in the ship traffic. In 2020, the findings from previous years were confirmed that the sale and smuggling of snus has become a professional activity in Finland.
Customs seized 4.5 million cigarettes in connection with criminal investigations in 2020. This was around 1.8 million cigarettes more than the year before, which is explained by two larger seizures. Cigarettes are mainly smuggled to Finland in smaller quantities, especially from Russia.
The amount of medicine violations doubled, especially nicotine pouches were more commonly seized
In terms of quantity, the amount of doping substances seized was significantly lower than the previous year. In 2020, around 34 700 doping tablets or ampoules were seized, whereas in 2019, the quantity was 298 000. However, the number of doping offences increased somewhat compared to the year before.
Medicinal substances were seized nearly four times the amount of the previous year, over 370 000 pieces. The amount of medicine violations increased dramatically – 1 471 violations were uncovered, which was double the amount of 2019. Of these, 1 015 were medicine violations. More prevalent in the seizures was a nicotine preparation packaged in small pouches, which in Finland is classified as a medicinal substance.
Increase in imports of marijuana, ecstasy, amphetamine and narcotic medicines
In 2020, Customs seized 769 kilos of narcotics in total, which is almost one thousand kilos less than the year before. Of individual narcotics, the quantity of khat in Customs’ seizures decreased significantly – around 900 kilos less was seized than the previous year.
The seized quantities showed clearly that the use of marihuana is increasing and, on the other hand, that the use of hashish is decreasing. Customs seized 280 kilos of marijuana, the largest quantity in 13 years. Only 0.7 kilos of hashish was seized, i.e. around 46 kilos less than the year before.
The quantity of cocaine seized dropped to 10 kilos from the record 33 kilos of the previous year. Only 40 grams of heroin was seized. The quantity of seized ecstasy was close to 79 500 tablets, which was around twice the quantity of 2019. A few larger seizures explain the increase.
In 2020, the quantity of seized amphetamine increased despite Corona restrictions to 42.4 kilos, when the quantity in 2019 had been the smallest in six years, i.e. 24.2 kilos. One large seizure explains the increase.
Customs seized nearly 237 000 tablets or ampoules of narcotic medicines in 2020. In 2019, the quantity was approximately 131 000 tablets or ampoules. Of this, roughly one quarter contained the medical product buprenorphine. In line with the current trend, postal traffic played a major role in the smuggling of narcotic medicines.