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U.S. Department of State
1997 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report, March 1998

United States Department of State

Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs

Europe and Central Asia


I. Summary

Finland is not a significant narcotics trafficking or money laundering country, but there is some illicit narcotics cultivation. According to the police, drug abuse has been on the rise in Finland throughout the 1990s, due in part to greater abuse/experimentation by young people. An efficient and professional law enforcement community vigorously combats drug abuse and narcotics trafficking, routinely intercepting major shipments, thus 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 haven, although burgeoning contacts with the Baltic Republics have resulted in a sharply increased flow of amphetamines from that region. 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 counternarcotics agreements 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. The Netherlands continues to be Finland's primary source of illicit narcotics. Hashish is the drug most frequently seized by the Finnish police. Trafficking in highly purified amphetamines from Estonia, as well as the stimulant "Ecstasy," is increasing. According to the police, these drugs are not manufactured in the Baltic region, but are produced elsewhere in Eastern Europe. Finnish authorities reiterate that their land border with Russia is well-patrolled--by both countries--and thus has not become a significant narcotics transit route.

III. Country Actions Against Drugs in 1997

Policy Initiatives. In CY 1997, the police investigated 220 cases involving the indoor cultivation of cannabis. The police say indoor cannabis cultivation is a new phenomenon in Finland, one that has become increasingly popular over the past two years. Seeds are reportedly available via the Internet from The Netherlands. While most home-grown cannabis is for private consumption, some is intended for trafficking.

Law Enforcement Efforts. During 1997, 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 illicit production of cocaine, amphetamine, heroin and other drugs is tightly controlled. Law enforcement authorities suspect that the insignificant number of cocaine users makes indigenous cocaine production economically impracticable.

Limited police resources have focused law enforcement authorities on major narcotics cases and significant traffickers, somewhat to the detriment of street-level patrols, investigations, and prosecutions. The police acknowledge that this is a problem, but say that it is being addressed by shifting personnel to the street and retargeting other resources.

During 1997, 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. According to the US-Finland Extradition Treaty, each party has discretion to extradite its nationals. However, Finland, like Germany, has domestic laws prohibiting the extradition of nationals, but permits domestic prosecution.

Agreements and Treaties. Finland enacted legislation criminalizing money laundering in 1994. There were no arrests for money laundering in 1997.

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. Finland is a party to the WCO's International Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance for the Prevention, Investigation, and Repression of Customs Offences "Nairobi Convention" Annex X on Assistance in Narcotics Cases. The USG has concluded a Customs Mutual Assistance Agreement (CMAA) with the Government of Finland.

Finland is a member of the Major Donors Group within the Dublin Group. The vast majority of its financial and other assistance to drug-producing and transit countries has been through the UNDCP. Finland has had bilateral narcotics agreements with Estonia since shortly after that country declared independence.

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.

Money Laundering. Finland is not a major money laundering country. It is also not a major financial, offshore banking, or banking center, nor is it a tax haven. There is no evidence that Finland or Finnish entities are being used by narco-criminals to launder funds.

IV. US Policy Initiatives and Programs

Bilateral Cooperation. Finland does not have a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty with the United States. Multilateral treaties, including membership in the UNDCP, constitute the basis of Finnish cooperation with the US on counternarcotics initiatives. Finland's multilateral commitments cover the spectrum of law enforcement, investigative, and jurisdictional cooperation.

The Road Ahead. During 1998, Finland will continue to assess the possibility of increasing the law enforcement community's abilities to pursue criminals using additional investigative tools--undercover investigations, witness protection programs, authorization to make controlled "buys" of narcotics from traffickers, etc. (wiretapping was authorized in 1995). The question of expanding police powers is currently being examined by two government working groups. The working groups are looking at measures that have proved effective in other countries, and are reportedly prepared to make recommendations for amending existing legislation. Finnish authorities do not anticipate a substantial change in the allocation of resources, including manpower, towards counternarcotics efforts in the year ahead.


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