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Narcotics seizures by Finnish Customs grew in 2017 – dangerous fentanyl derivatives seized in Finland

12.3.2018 8.00
Press release

Customs registered 9,409 offences in 2017 of which 3,229 were narcotics offences and 1,086 were tax frauds. A total of 3,175 kilograms of narcotics were seized.Finnish Customs also warned about life-threatening fentanyl derivatives and uncovered a substantial number of doping offences.The impact of customs crime prevention on society amounted to around 81 million euros in 2017.

Finnish Customs registered 9,409 offences in 2017. The number of registered offences has remained relatively steady for the last three years. Narcotics offences were 3,229 of which 271 were aggravated narcotics offences. Compared to 2016, the number remained about the same, but the number of aggrevated narcotics offences grew somewhat.

Foreign suspects accounted for 50 per cent of the aggravated narcotics offences.

Finnish Customs’ crime prevention impacts society             

The impact of customs crime prevention on society amounted to around 81 million euros in 2017. The social impact mainly consisted of evaded taxes, which amounted to around 48 million euros. Customs recovered proceeds of crime in the amount of 28 million euros. As for the indicators of the impact of economic crime prevention, the losses due to the investigated cases were high, i.e. they amounted to nearly 47 million euros.

The value of goods unseized by Customs in 2017 was five million euros.The total value of goods unseized in 2016 was significantly higher, since Customs examined a substantial case of international narcotics smuggling.

Highest level of tax fraud in five years

Finnish Customs investigated a total number of 1,086 cases of tax fraud in 2017, when the corresponding number in 2016 was 914. Uncovered cases of aggrevated tax fraud were 83. The cases of aggravated tax fraud mainly consisted of  the illegal import of cigarettes, alcohol and Swedish snus and also taxes related to vehicles, excise duty, VAT, customs duties, and illegal activities related to the transit procedure. Finnish Customs has, as in previous years, uncovered illegal activities in the logistics sector in connection with export and transit procedures. The cases under investigation by Customs have involved goods which were not duly cleared for export or had incorrect goods descriptions, among other things.

The internet is used to an increasing extent in marketing and selling highly taxable products to consumers, while evading the tax regulations concerning these products. Finnish Customs, together with the Tax Administration and foreign law enforcement authorities, fights the increasing number of frauds connected to value added taxation in Union trade.

Offences connected to snus, cigarettes and alcohol decreased

Finnish Customs seized 2,390 kilograms of snus in 2017 (3,442 in 2016). This is 1,000 kilograms less than in 2016. In Finland, snus is sold online at different trading places, on a cash-on-delivery basis or in connection with other commercial activity.

Finnish Customs seized over 3 million cigarettes in connection with criminal matters in 2017. The quantity was 1,3 million cigarettes less than in 2016. The quantity of cigarettes seized in criminal matters is impacted by the fact that no larger cases of cigarette smuggling were observed in 2017.

Customs uncovered 343 alcohol offences in 2017 (610 in 2016) and seized 3,369 litres of alcohol in 2017 in connection with passenger imports.

Small quantities of dangerous substances seized do not tell the whole truth

Finnish Customs seized 3,175 kilograms of narcotics in 2017, which is  over 2,000 kilograms more than the previous year. Khat seizures grew by 1, 500 kilograms from the previous year and hashish seizures by 600 kilograms, which explains the strong growth of the total quantity. In the previous two years, khat was brought into Finland in a dried state, which makes it lighter. The strong growth of the quantity of hashish seized, is explained by one seizure of 660 kilograms. The total quantity of seized marihuana was 115 kilograms.

A total quantity of around 58 kilograms of methamphetamine and amphetamine was seizes, i.e. two kilograms more than the year before.

Customs seized 3.5 kilograms of cocaine and 19,000 tablets of ecstasy. The seizures regarding both substances show a decreasing trend, but still corresponded to the average quantity of the last 10 years.

Finnish Customs seized approximately 90 grams of fentanyl derivatives in 2017. The quantity is significant, when taking into account the extremely small single doses. A quantity of 0.12 grams of the derivative carfentanil, which is 10,000 more potent than morphine, was seized.

Narcotics in passenger and postal traffic – record quantity of narcotic medicines discovered

A great number of narcotics smuggling cases were uncovered in passenger traffic. The cross-border postal traffic also revealed several cases of narcotics smuggling, which shows that the internet is used increasingly for the sale and acquisition of narcotics.

Finnish Customs seized twice the amount of narcotic medicines in 2017 compared to the previous year, and five times more than the average of the last five years.

The illegal import of medicines has exploded in the last five years as the importance of the internet as a trading venue for illegal drugs has grown. This has led to medicines being

seized mainly in the postal traffic or in courier consignments. Around one-tenth of the seized medicines are brought in as passenger imports.

Doping substances smuggled more than ever

The quantity of doping substances seized by Customs quadrupled compared to 2016, despite the drop in the amount of aggravated doping offences. In 2017, approximately 121,300 tablets or ampoules of doping substances were seized. This clearly shows that great quantities are smuggled at one time. A major change in the smuggling of doping substances is that they are smuggled in large lots, which may contain e.g. one thousand ampoules or several kilograms of testosterone.

In 2007, Finnish Customs seized around 10 kilograms of doping powders, which is almost five kilograms more than in the previous year. Testosterone powder was also often smuggled in large lots. The powder is used to manufacture single doses for injection or to manufacture tablets with a tablet machine. These substances are then sold through different networks.

Press Release