Police in eastern Finland have uncovered a drug ring operated by underage teens in Iisalmi in North Savo, the law enforcement agency announced on Monday.
Authorities suspect 15 to 20 young people of using, procuring and selling medical narcotics as well as substances classified as hard drugs, such as methamphetamine.
The suspects are all minors, the majority of which are 15-16 years old. Police said the case was under investigation from March to May of this year.
The ring was allegedly operated via a WhatsApp group, according to senior constable Aleksi Hartikainen. He added that the actions of the group are being investigated as drug offences. However no aggravated offences are being considered as no evidence was found to indicate that large quantities of drugs were involved.
"We will look into the role of everyone involved in the messaging chain. Whether or not they have participated in distribution or just used [the drugs]. It is enough to sell or [even] give drugs to a friend to be talking about a drug offence," Hartikainen noted.
Concerns about youth safety
Police said that one of the striking aspects of the investigation is the young age of the suspects and as well as the active use and sale of substances classified as hard drugs.
"A few years ago the spotlight was on cannabis usage among young people. Apparently they have now moved on to hard drugs," Hartikainen said.
The police officer said that the alleged messages suggest that the case involved very active narcotics users and he added that this was no longer a case of recreational usage. He added that police are concerned about the safety of young people.
"When you start selling hard drugs to adults bad things can happen," he cautioned.
Hartikainen said that the evidence suggests that the group had been in operation for some time. Police have interviewed the suspects and are continuing their investigation. The case will be referred to prosecutors for consideration of charges in the autumn.