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1998 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report

Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs
United States Department of State
February 26, 1999


I. Summary

Finland is not a significant narcotics trafficking or money laundering country, although there is some illicit marijuana cultivation, mostly for personal use. According to the police, drug abuse has risen steadily in Finland during the 1990s, due to greater experimentation by young people and to a growing gap between police resources and incidents of drug abuse. An efficient and professional law enforcement community nonetheless vigorously combats drug abuse and narcotics trafficking, regularly intercepting major shipments and denying traffickers an easy transit point and market. There is no known narcotics-related corruption in Finland. Effective controls on the Russian border have prevented the overland route from developing into a trafficking conduit. The police are concerned, however, about heroin and amphetamine shipments arriving from the St. Petersburg area and from the Baltic Republics, respectively. Finland is a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention, is a major donor member of the UNDCP, and is active in counternarcotics initiatives within the European Union. Finland has no bilateral counter-narcotics treaties with the United States.

II. Status of Country

Finland remains an insignificant country with respect to narcotics production, trafficking, cultivation, and production/diversion of precursor chemicals. Finnish law enforcement authorities effectively counter the threat of trafficking from abroad and energetically combat domestic abuse. Estonia, The Netherlands, and Russia are Finland's main sources of illicit drugs. Hashish is the drug most often seized by the Finnish police. Trafficking in highly purified amphetamines from Estonia, including the drug "ecstasy," is a continuing concern for Finland. According to the police, these drugs are not manufactured in the Baltic region, but are produced elsewhere in Eastern Europe. Finnish authorities report that their land border with Russia remains well guarded, by both countries, and has thus not become a significant narcotics transit route. They nonetheless express concern about a new development in 1998, the arrival in southern Finland of high-quality, powerful heroin from the St. Petersburg area. Despite a decline in the amount of heroin seized during the first nine months of 1998, as compared to the first nine months of 1997, the Finns say the stronger heroin being seized is intended for the local Finnish market and is not mainly, as in the past, merely transiting Finland. As a whole Finland is still believed to be a merely a transportation port from the New Independent States and the Baltic's for points west. A police liaison officer assigned to the Finnish consulate general in St. Petersburg works with the Russian authorities to combat this and other threats to Finland.

III. Country Actions Against Drugs in 1998

Law Enforcement Efforts. The police report that the Finnish government is preparing to release a comprehensive statement on drugs that will clearly articulate, for the general public, Finland's policy on drugs. Reportedly, this statement will remind citizens that all narcotics infractions, from casual use to manufacturing to trafficking, are crimes and are punishable under Finnish law.

In 1998, the police investigated 190 cases involving the indoor cultivation of cannabis. The police say indoors cannabis cultivation is a new phenomenon in Finland, one that has become more popular in recent years. While most homegrown cannabis is for private consumption, some is intended for trafficking.

During 1998, there were no seizures of indigenously cultivated opiates, no recorded diversions of precursor chemicals, and no detection of illicit amphetamine, cocaine, or LSD laboratories in Finland. Finland's climate and short growing season make natural cultivation of cannabis and opiates almost impossible. Local cannabis cultivation involves small numbers of plants in individual homes using artificial lighting. The distribution of the 22 key precursor chemicals used for cocaine, amphetamine, and heroin production is tightly controlled. Law enforcement authorities suspect that the insignificant number of cocaine users makes indigenous cocaine production economically impracticable.

Finland enacted legislation criminalizing money laundering in 1994. The police report that they have investigated ten fairly minor narcotics- related money-laundering cases in 1998.

Agreements and Treaties. Finland is a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention, and its legislation is consistent with all the Convention's goals. Existing Finnish legislation covers the distribution, sale, and transport of narcotic substances, as well as extradition, law enforcement, transit cooperation, precursor chemical control, and demand reduction. It also criminalizes abuse of illicit drugs with sentences of up to two years in prison. The police believe it is imperative to criminalize the system effectively in order to send a strong deterrent message to the "demand" end.

Beginning in the mid-1980s, limited police resources focused law enforcement authorities on major narcotics cases and on significant traffickers, somewhat to the detriment of street-level patrols, investigations, and prosecutions. The police say the result of this change has been to lessen drug users' fear of arrest and to make "recreational" drug use more widespread. According to the police, the steady rise in drug use during the 1990s has led to a situation in which the number of drug offenders greatly exceeds the resources deployed to combat illegal drugs.

During 1998, Finland maintained its staffing of one customs officer and one national police official at the European drugs unit (EDU), Europol's only operational unit, located in The Hague. Finnish authorities are pleased with their presence at EDU, which they see as enhancing their domestic counternarcotics efforts.

Finnish judicial authorities are empowered to seize the assets, real and financial, of criminals. Finland has extradition treaties with most countries, but seldom extradites a Finn to a foreign country. A number of Finns have been returned to Finland for prosecution, however. Extradition legislation now before parliament would make it easier to extradite Finnish suspects to other countries.

The USG has concluded a Customs Mutual Assistance Agreement (CMAA) with the Government of Finland. In addition, Finland is a party to the World Customs Organization's International Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance for the Prevention, Investigation, and Repression of customs Offenses, Annex X on Assistance in Narcotics Cases.

Corruption. There have been no arrests, investigations, or prosecutions of public officials charged with corruption or related offenses linked to narcotics money in Finnish history.

IV. U.S. Policy Initiatives and Programs

U.S. Policy Initiatives. Finland does not have a mutual legal assistance treaty, or bilateral precursor chemical or money laundering agreements with the United States. The 1976 US-Finland Extradition Treaty has been in force since 1980. Multilateral treaties, including membership in the UNDCP, constitute the basis of Finnish cooperation with the U.S. on counternarcotics initiatives. Finland's multilateral commitments cover the spectrum of law enforcement, investigative, and jurisdictional cooperation.

The Road Ahead. During 1999, Finland will continue to examine the possibility of increasing the law enforcement community's abilities to pursue criminals using additional investigative tools, undercover investigations, witness protection programs, and authorization to make controlled "buys" of narcotics from traffickers. Wiretapping was authorized in 1995. The question of expanding police powers is still being examined by two government-working groups. The working groups are looking at measures that have proved effective in other countries, with an eye to making recommendations for amending existing legislation. The Finnish police hope that, once the government's comprehensive policy statement on drugs is issued, greater resources will be allocated to the counternarcotics effort.

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