The National Bureau of Investigation says it has uncovered a drug trafficking ring operating in eastern and northern Finland. According to lead NBI investigator Jukka Nurmenniemi, the suspects involved in the illicit trade are all Finnish men with an average age of over 30. The men all hail from near Oulu, northern Finland, eastern Finland and northern Karelia.
"This kind of drug organisation has actors on various levels. Most of them also have a background of prior drug offences," Nurmenniemi said.
The NBI got a whiff of the operation by way of an independent investigation it was running. The police confiscated two lots of drugs from the group containing liquid amphetamines as well as distilled amphetamine that would have yielded some a total of roughly 35 kilograms of the substance.
The street value of that quantity of contraband would have reached roughly 1.5 million euros. That makes it one of the largest amphetamine hauls officials have made in Finland. The liquid amphetamine would have been used to prepare the drug used in the street trade.
"Recently there has been a visible phenomenon in Europe in which liquid amphetamine from the Netherlands or Belgium has been smuggled into a destination and only then is it distilled into amphetamine that is ready for use. Smuggling the base is no less risky than the street-ready drug because amphetamine base is also classified as a narcotic,” Nurmenniemi explained, adding that the substance was likely brought in from Europe.
"I cannot say anything about the route at this stage," he noted.
First stash found in Oulu
The first batch of contraband was seized in the Oulu region in October 2016. It comprised liquid amphetamine that was to be used to prepare roughly seven kilograms of street goods.
In June 2017, police held three people in northern Karelia, who had been refining the drug in a secluded cottage. The amphetamine seized at the cottage would have been spliced with other substances to produce some 30 kilograms of product for the street trade. Police suspect that the group had been in operation for some time.
The preliminary investigation into the operation took 18 months and has also involved officers looking abroad to connect the dots. Police have completed their probe into the suspected aggravated drug offences and the case has will soon be sent forward for consideration of charges. Police initially detained six of ten people under suspicion, but now just four are being held.
The entire case also involves suspicions of financial crimes, with officers looking into suspected aggravated money laundering as well as initiating procedures for forfeiture of criminal proceeds, including confiscating the suspects’ assets. Consideration of charges for these offences will take place next year.