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NBI wraps up probe of cocaine smuggling, distribution operation

In Finland the maximum penalty for smuggling 2 kg of cocaine is seven years imprisonment.

Finnish police emblem on uniform, file photo. Image: Matias Väänänen / Yle

Police have wrapped up a preliminary investigation of a large-scale cocaine trafficking operation and the case file has been sent to prosecutors in western Finland, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) announced on Tuesday.

Three Dutch men and a fourth suspect are being held in remand custody over suspicions of smuggling and then distributing cocaine in the Turku area. The group also had immediate plans to distribute the drug in the capital area, according to police.

Police became aware of the trafficking group in the early summer of last year. Based on police information, the Border Guard pinpointed two Dutch citizens as potential drug smugglers.

Working on that information, police found the men staying at a downtown Helsinki hotel, and seized 380 grams of cocaine during the search.

The NBI said an extensive investigation found that the suspects had smuggled approximately 2.1 kg of cocaine into Finland over the course of a year.

Body packing smugglers

The cocaine was gradually smuggled using body packing methods, in which parcels are hidden inside a person's body.

"Smuggling drugs in body cavities is a dangerous modus operandi. If the drugs get into your system, you will most probably die," said Senior Detective Superintendent Aki Lahtinen, the NBI's investigation head.

NBI authorities said the Dutch suspects began dealing drugs in the Turku area via an internet contact and had also rented storage facilities in the area.

Police also found that the suspects were working on expanding their drug dealing to the greater Helsinki region, and had signed a rental agreement for storage facilities in the area on the day they were apprehended.

Police estimated that the drug operation gained the suspects earnings of up to 250,000 euros.

Overall, police seized around 400 grams of cocaine, 35,000 euros in cash as well as a small amount of amphetamines and other drugs, including prescription pills.

"We maintained active and real-time international cooperation with the Dutch police and the Finnish and Dutch liaison officers at Europol to exchange information and prepare police operations in the case. In August 2020, for example, we participated in the searches of the Dutch suspects' homes which were conducted by the Dutch police in Utrecht, the Netherlands," Lahtinen said in a statement.