1998 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report
Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs
United States Department of State
February 26, 1999
Sweden is not a principal illicit drug production or trafficking country.
Sweden is a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention. It retains its zero
tolerance policy and opposes any liberalization trends both in Europe and
in Sweden. General McCaffrey, director of the Office of National Drug
Control Policy (ONDCP), visited Stockholm as the first stop on a European
tour in July 1998 to show U.S. support for Sweden's zero tolerance policy.
Currently, Swedish authorities are concerned about increasing brown
heroin smoke abuse among first and second generation immigrant
youth and changing attitudes among the young who seem more willing
to experiment with drugs. There is also concern about young people
using ecstasy and about increasing use of rohypnol (flunitrazepam) together
with, e.g., alcohol which can result in violence, "black-outs" and even
death. Drugs from Eastern Europe and the Newly Independent States (NIS)
remain a real problem for Swedish law enforcement. The diversion of
precursor chemicals and money laundering activity remain relatively minor
problems. In 1998, Sweden continued its co-operation in international fora,
e.g., in the EU and with the Baltic nations to combat drug trafficking and
II. Status of Country
Sweden maintains its very restrictive policy towards illicit drugs. Sweden
is not now nor likely in the future to become a significant country for
drug production, transit, money laundering or precursor chemicals.
Amphetamine and cannabis/hashish remain the most frequently abused drugs.
Police report that indoor cultivation of cannabis, although small-scale,
seems to be increasing. There has been a marked increase of heroin seized,
particularly brown heroin (smoked) seems to have caught on among first and
second generation immigrant youth. Ecstasy is used by some of the young
middle-class (ages 15-20) at nightspots and large rave parties in major
cities and sometimes in smaller towns.
In 1998, the number of amphetamine seizures was about equal to the number
of cannabis/hashish seizures. Smaller quantities of cocaine and LSD are
also used. Very young abusers, often together with alcohol or cannabis or
to increase the effect of heroin, use Rohypnol (flunitrazepam), often made
in the Czech Republic. Persons who want to counter withdrawal symptoms from
heroin, amphetamine or ecstasy also use it. There is also illegal diversion
of legally prescribed rohypnol. Despite the increase in this abuse, the
Swedish medical products agency has not yet changed rohypnol's
classification to schedule 2 (1971 UN Convention on Psychotropic
The government worries about new attitudes and more experimentation with
drugs among the young from all socio-economic groups, who travel widely and
get information and misinformation and legal and illegal products through
internet. There is also growing concern about the increasing use of
synthetic drugs among "fast track" groups. No one in Sweden knows how many
"functional addicts" there are.
The steroid GHB (Gamma-Hydroid-Butarat) is abused instead of liquor by some
in Sweden. The use of a substance in the fungus psilocybe semilanceata is
also beginning to occur in Sweden. The Government of Sweden (GOS) continues
its consensus-based, traditional, strict counter-narcotics approach to drug
control issues. A November 1998 Swedish Institute for Opinion Research
(SIFO) telephone poll of 1,000 Swedes shows that 96 percent of adult Swedes
want stronger actions by the government to stop drug abuse, 95 percent are
of the opinion that using drugs should continue to be illegal.
The Swedish National Institute for Public Health continues to advocate a
healthy lifestyle to prevent drug abuse; it also subsidizes drug use
prevention programs in the private sector.
The latest GOS nationwide study, published in 1993, indicated that there
were 14,000-20,000 daily drug users in Sweden in 1992 (about 2 percent of
the total population). Swedish authorities believe the number of hard-core
daily users may have increased somewhat in the 1990s, and smaller studies
suggest that weekend use among the young is increasing. In 1995, the
Swedish council for information on alcohol and other drugs (CAN) initiated
a major investigation called ESPAD, the European school survey
project on alcohol and other drugs, comprising 15-16-year-olds in 26
nations. The result, published in November 1997, shows that cannabis
is the most prevalent drug. The survey also puts Sweden far down
the list with six percent of those surveyed ever having tried a drug
(compared to the U.K. and Ireland with 40 percent, the Czech Republic with
22, Italy with 19 and Denmark with 17 percent). This study also shows that
one percent of Swedish youth used drugs during a 30-day period (compared to
29 percent in the U.K., 25 in Ireland, 13 percent in Italy, etc.).
Precursors: The GOS monitors imports and exports of all precursor and
essential chemicals. The Swedish Medical Products Agency is responsible for
precursor and essential chemical controls. In 1998, work continued on a
joint program between the police, the customs, and the medical products
agency to create a national network of contact persons dealing with
precursors. The idea is also to train trainers within enforcement to spread
knowledge about precursors and to hold seminars on the potential
threat of precursors. With EU funding, such a seminar was held in
1998 with participants from the major chemical companies in Sweden,
as a starting point for work towards MOU agreements on voluntary
III. Country Actions Against Drugs in 1998
Policy Initiatives. The Swedish police and customs maintain a cooperative,
informal relationship with authorities in many countries to control drug
trafficking. Swedish customs and police officials continue to train Baltic
authorities in drug trafficking intelligence work and investigation
methods. They are using $2 million annually from a 1991 multi-year program
of $8.5 million to assist Baltic nations, Poland and the St. Petersburg
area with various projects, such as building criminal surveillance centers,
and providing technical assistance for controlling borders. The program
also gives training through the Nordic Baltic police academy,
including forensic training, special forces training, and advanced
In May 1996, the heads of governments of the Baltic Sea nations established
a task force on organized crime in the Baltic Sea region to combat the
increasing levels of organized crime, including inter alia drug
trafficking and money laundering. The task force consists of personal
representatives of these government heads and is chaired by Sweden. In 1997-
98, 11 joint operations were carried out. The task force secretariat is
located at the Ministry of Justice in Stockholm. A special U.S. law
enforcement point of contact has been established with the Department of
Justice's legal representative in Brussels.
Within the framework of the Nordic council there are expanded activities.
The Nordic and Baltic ministers responsible for narcotics policy issues met
in Stockholm in May 1998 and initiated cooperation in, e.g., promoting a
drug free life style and providing necessary resources for drug treatment
Sweden participates in a number of international anti-drug fora, including
the UN commission on narcotic drugs, the UN Drug Control Program (UNDCP),
and the Dublin group. Sweden has the chairmanship of the regional Dublin
group in Africa for 1998-99 and contributes SEK 2 million (about $0.25
million) to the UNDCP "drug nexus study" in Africa. During 1998, Sweden
continued actively to promote improvement of multilateral anti-drug
activities in UNDCP. Sweden remains dedicated to work for UNDCP reform.
According to the Swedish ministry for foreign affairs, Sweden as one
of the major donors gave approximately SEK 32 million (about
$4.2 million) in FY-97 contributions to the UNDCP. The 1998 contribution
will be SEK 35 million (approximately $4.375 million) and the 1999 pledge
is also SEK 35 million.
During 1997-98, Sweden completed its informal preparatory work for the 1998
UNGA special session on drugs by holding a series of four seminars in
Sweden. In May 1998, Mexico, Portugal and Sweden held an international
symposium in Stockholm. The government set aside SEK 3 million (about $0.4
million) for this. SIDA, the Swedish international development authority,
was given SEK 10 million (about $1.4 million) in 1996 for a two-year-
project for work against drugs in the developing world (drug prevention,
treatment and rehabilitation and some drug control projects). In FY-97,
Sweden's contribution to the UN World Health Organization's substance abuse
program was about SEK 3 million (about $0.4 million) and in 1998, SEK one
million (about $0.125 million).
Sweden continues to work in many different ways within the EU to combat
drug abuse. In 1998, the national police kept up its work, partly financed
by EU funds, on a Northern European amphetamine project that aims to map
out the area's drug flow and couriers, then the criminal groups, and then
the labs. This program will be evaluated in 1999. Sweden also participates
in the EU's early warning system for new synthetic drugs.
European Cities Against Drugs (ECAD), an alliance of major cities that
espouses zero tolerance policies and no liberalization, is a growing Europe-
wide movement founded in Sweden in 1994. The alliance maintains its
secretariat in Stockholm. During 1997, this organization expanded its work
also to cities in Eastern Europe. In May 1998, ECAD held a conference,
"world cities against drugs", in Stockholm with top-level, international
attendance including Herbert Okun, the UN International Narcotics Control
Board (INCB), and in November 1998, hosted "the European Union policy
against drugs, now and in the future", in the European parliament.
Currently, 184 cities or municipalities in 30 countries in Europe are
members of ECAD.
Domestic Policy. In May 1998 the Swedish government appointed a national
narcotics commission to conduct a broad-based evaluation of its drug policy
since the mid-80s and to propose ways to strengthen it. Work has begun, and
this task is to be concluded in the year 2000.
The GOS is proposing to Parliament legislation to make punishable driving
under the influence of narcotics or certain medical drugs. Another proposal
seeks to ban products that are deemed hazardous to a person's health. Like
other nations, Sweden faces the growing problem of designer drugs. To
combat their proliferation, the ministry of health and social affairs wants
to replace in current legislation the criterion "strongly habit-forming"
with "dependence-creating qualities or euphoria-creating effects".
The latter would be an easier-to-establish criterion, which the ministry
hopes will speed up investigations and thus decisions regarding new
Sweden, for many years lacked statistics on drug-related deaths. To satisfy
EU demands, it is now taking steps to be able to report to the Lisbon
monitoring center annually. Approximate figures for 1996 were 250 drug-
related deaths nationwide, of which about 33 were cases of overdose (1995
figures were 194 and 40). Governmental institutes for forensic medicine are
now instructed to report any narcotics findings. Customs' new access to
flight booking computers has resulted in more seizures.
Accomplishments. With its accession to the EU on January 1, 1995, Sweden
began a closer, more formal collaboration with law enforcement and judicial
authorities of its EU partners. Accordingly, the GOS passed police and
customs controls legislation in 1995. Swedish customs officers continue to
patrol Sweden's borders with EU countries and to inspect persons and goods
when they have reason. However, with EU accession, Sweden in 1995 downsized
its force of customs officers by 750 positions, a reduction of 25
A new law has come into force in 1998 giving Swedish customs increased
authority to control alcohol- and tobacco-transporting vehicles also inside
Sweden. Customs has several agreements with business groups, e.g., in the
transportation sector, for mutual assistance aimed at stopping drug
trafficking. Within EU councils, Sweden continues to advocate zero
In 1998, no Swedish police liaison officers were sent to new posts abroad.
However, Swedish customs assigned an officer to a new post in Riga, Latvia.
Swedish police and customs drug liaison officers are still located in Paris,
St. Petersburg, Bangkok, Athens, Copenhagen, The Hague, London, Warsaw,
Tallinn, Riga, Bonn, Budapest, and Moscow. Sweden has both a customs and a
police officer in Europol in The Hague; there is one Swedish
policeman at Interpol in Lyon.
Agreements and Treaties. Sweden is a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention
and is fully meeting the convention's goals and objectives. Sweden also is
a party to the 1961 UN Single Convention, as amended by the 1972 Protocol,
and to the 1971 UN Convention on Psychotropic Substances. Extradition
between the U.S. and Sweden is governed by a 1961 convention and a 1983
Sweden has bilateral customs agreements with the United States, Germany,
The United Kingdom, The Netherlands, France, Finland, Denmark, Norway,
Iceland, Spain, Poland, Russia, Estonia, Lithuania, Hungary, Latvia, and
The Czech Republic. In 1998, a similar agreement with Slovakia entered into
force. In 1997, the Swedish and Russian governments agreed on cooperation
between the Russian federal tax police service and Swedish police and
customs (two agreements). Sweden cooperates with the United States under a
1984 extradition treaty. In addition, Sweden is a party to the World
Customs Organization's International Convention, on Mutual Administrative
Assistance for the Prevention, Investigation, and Repression of Customs
Offenses (Nairobi Convention) Annex x on Assistance in Narcotics
Law Enforcement: Swedish law enforcement authorities are effective. In 1998
the total number of police and seizures of illicit substances was 15,199.
The drug most often seized was cannabis (5,060 seizures totaling 496
kilograms). The second most common was amphetamines (4,775 seizures
totaling 134 kilograms). In 1998, Swedish customs and police seized 70.9
kilograms of heroin in 1,285 of cocaine in 172 seizures. There were 104
seizures, of ecstasy totaling 21,273 tablets.
Corruption. Corruption is very rare and, when discovered, consistently
punished. Anti-corruption laws effectively deter public officials from
engaging in the illicit production or distribution of drugs, and in the
laundering of drug money.
Cultivation/Production. No illicit drugs are known to be cultivated or
produced in significant amounts in Sweden, but there seems to be a trend
towards increasing numbers of people cultivating cannabis at home, using
seeds bought through the internet. Two Swedish amphetamine labs were found
and destroyed in 1998.
Drug Flow/Transit. In 1998, Sweden remained a destination point for
synthetic drugs entering most often through the Netherlands or Germany and
Denmark, originally produced in Poland, The Netherlands, Belgium, The Czech
Republic and the Baltic nations, as well as for cocaine from South America.
Drugs enter the country concealed in commercial goods, overland, by mail,
by air, and by ferry. Authorities are now particularly concerned about the
increase in brown heroin seized. The Netherlands remain the source
for approximately half of all amphetamines seized, but substantial
amounts of amphetamines originate in Poland, The Czech Republic, and,
possibly, the Baltics.
Police, customs, and the Social Ministry regard brown heroin as the most
rapidly spreading drug at present, especially smoked by young immigrants,
first and second generation, some of whom are using both brown heroin and
cocaine. There is no street sale of crack in Sweden.
Almost all ecstasy seized originates from The Netherlands. About 90 percent
of all cannabis seized in Sweden originates from Morocco and enters through
Spain or The Netherlands. Pakistani brown heroin often is smuggled in by
ethnic Albanians from Kosovo and FYROM through the Czech Republic or
Slovakia, via Germany and Denmark, by ferry to Sweden. There is a marked
increase in larger seizures of heroin. Cocaine still is most often smuggled
into Sweden by passengers flying in from South America, via EU airports.
There are also criminal groups from Eastern Europe involved as
well. Smuggling, mainly for and by Somalians, is increasing considerably.
Once in Sweden, few drugs are transported to other countries. In 1998, law
enforcement officials in Sweden did not discover drugs intended for the
Demand Reduction. The Swedish National Institute of Public Health
coordinates all drug preventive efforts. It is starting a major campaign
involving parents, school staff, youth leaders, celebrities in the world of
music, fashion, and media, as well as business leaders to "inoculate" as
many 13-19 year olds as possible against drugs. Full-page ads in business
papers appeal to adults to be positive role models against drugs. The
dissemination of information on the dangers of drug abuse is compulsory in
Swedish schools. Political, religious, sports, and other organizations
continue to receive government subsidies to implement information and
activity programs aimed at educating youth and parents on the dangers of
drug abuse. Various private organizations also are active in drug abuse
prevention and public information programs. Opinion polls a few years ago
show a more tolerant attitude to drugs among the young, especially to
cannabis and ecstasy.
The GOS emphasizes drug abuse prevention combined with restrictive drug
policy, enforcement measures, and drug rehabilitation. For example, to
combat ecstasy, Stockholm's special police unit of 15 officers, formed to
go to nightspots and "rave" parties to identify young newcomers to the rave
culture who are abusing and/or selling ecstasy, has in 1997 been simulated
in two other major cities. Under Swedish law, individuals who abuse drugs
can be sentenced to drug treatment.
IV. U.S. Policy Initiatives and Programs
Bilateral Cooperation: Swedish cooperation with United States Government
(USG) law enforcement authorities continues to be excellent. In July 1998,
General Barry McCaffrey, director of ONDCP, visited Sweden and praised
Swedish firmness in counternarcotics work in Sweden and in the EU.
The Road Ahead: The USG looks forward to further strengthening its already
good counter-narcotics cooperation with Sweden, particularly in the Nordic-
Baltic and Newly Independent States (NIS).