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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

Sweden is not a principal illicit drug production or trafficking country. Swedish authorities are worried about more aggressive marketing of drugs and changing drug attitudes among the young and their use of Ecstasy at "rave" parties. New drugs are "smart drugs," "eco-drugs," and the steroid GHB. The use of a substance in the mushroom "Psylocybe Semilanceata" is also beginning to occur in Sweden. Drugs originating and transiting formerly communist Europe continue to be a real problem for Swedish law enforcement. The diversion of precursor chemicals and money laundering activity remain relatively minor problems. Sweden has a zero-tolerance policy and opposes liberalization. In 1997, Sweden increased its cooperation with the EU and with the Baltic nations to combat drug trafficking and money laundering.

II. Status of Country

Sweden adheres to a very restrictive policy towards illicit drugs. Amphetamine and cannabis/hashish remain the most frequently abused drugs. However, Ecstasy has the biggest increase in abuse. It is used by the young middle-class (ages 15-20) at nightspots and large "rave" parties in major cities and increasingly in smaller towns. In 1997, the number of amphetamine seizures were about equal to the number of cannabis/hashish seizures. Smaller quanitities of heroin and LSD are also used. Cocaine seems not to have become as serious a problem as was feared a few years ago.

The Government of Sweden (GOS) continues its traditional, strict counternarcotics approach to drug control issues. 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 nation-wide 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 has not changed significantly, although 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 GOS monitors imports and exports of all precursor and essential chemicals. The Swedish Medical Products Agency is responsible for precursor and essential chemical controls. Thanks to EU membership, in 1997, the Swedish police initiated a joint program with 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.

III. Country Actions Against Drugs in 1997

Policy Initiatives. The Swedish police force maintains a cooperative, informal relationship with authorities in many countries to control drug smuggling. Swedish Customs and police officials train Baltic authorities in drug trafficking intelligence work. They are receiving from a 1993 multi-year program $8.5 million to assist Baltic nations with various projects such as building criminal surveillance centers, and providing technical assistance for controlling borders. The program also gives training to the Nordic Baltic Police Academy, including forensic training, special forces training, and advanced narcotics training. Sweden also continues to assist Russia and Poland in drug enforcement training.

In May 1996, the heads of governments of the Council of Baltic Sea States (CBSS) established a task force on organized crime in the Baltic Sea region to combat the increasing levels of organized crime, including drug trafficking and money laundering. The task force consists of personal representatives of the CBSS government heads. In 1997, six joint operations on, inter-alia, amphetamine and money laundering were carried out.

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. In March 1997, Sweden proposed and won majority support to evaluate UNDCP's work since its 1991 start; a group of experts has now been appointed for this. Sweden remains dedicated to work for UNDCP reform. According to the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Sweden pledged approximately $4.2 million in FY97 contributions to the UNDCP, continuing its role as one of the major donors.

During 1997, Sweden continued its informal preparatory work for the 1998 UNGA Special Session on Drugs by holding a series of seminars in Sweden. The Government set aside $0.4 million for this. SIDA, The Swedish International Development Authority, was given $1.4 million in 1996 for a two-year project for work against drugs in the developing world. In FY97, Sweden's contribution to the UN World Health Organization's substance abuse program was about $400,000 million.

Sweden continues to work in many different ways within the EU to combat drug use. The National Police were given $200,000 million from EU funds for 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. Sweden will participate in the EU's early warning system.

"European Cities Against Drugs," 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 1998, legislation will be proposed 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 a criterion which would be easier to establish, and which the Ministry hopes will speed up investigations, and thus decisions regarding new designer drugs.

Statistics on cases involving drug-related deaths have been unavailable. To satisfy EU concerns, Sweden is addressing this problem in order to report to the Lisbon Monitoring Center annually. Governmental institutes for forensic medicine are now instructed to report any narcotics findings. Customs' new access to flight booking computers have resulted in more seizures.

Accomplishments. With its accession to the EU on January 1, 1995, Sweden began a closer, more formal collaboration with the law enforcement and judicial authorities of its EU partners. Accordingly, the GOS passed police and customs controls legislation in 1996. 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 downsized its force of customs officers by 750 positions, a reduction of 25 percent. Within EU councils, Sweden advocates zero-tolerance policies.

In 1997, no Swedish enforcement liaison officers were sent to new posts abroad, but in 1998, Swedish customs plans to assign an officer to Riga, Latvia. Swedish police and customs drug liaison officers remain in Paris, Bangkok, Athens, Copenhagen, Lisbon, London, Warsaw, Tallinn, Riga, Bonn, Budapest, and Moscow. Sweden has both a customs and a police officer in the EU's European Drug Unit (EDU) in The Hague.

Agreements and Treaties. Sweden is a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention and is fully meeting the Convention's goals and objectives. Sweden is also a party to the 1961 UN Single Convention, and its 1972 Protocol, and the 1971 UN Convention on Psychotropic Substances.

Sweden 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 Sweden. Sweden also has has bilateral customs agreements with Germany, United Kingdom, The Netherlands, France, Finland, Denmark, Norway, Iceland, Spain, Poland, Russia, Estonia, Lithuania, Hungary, Latvia, and the Czech Republic. In 1997, a similar agreement with Slovakia was ratified. Also 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 1961 Extradition Treaty and a 1983 Supplementary Extradition Treaty.

Law Enforcement Efforts. Swedish law enforcement authorities are effective. From January-October, 1997, there were 10,576 individual seizures by police and customs. The drugs most often seized were amphetamines, with 3,775 seizures totaling 150KG for the first 10 months of 1997 (compared to 4,199 for all of 1996, totaling 127 kilograms). The second-most commonly seized drug was cannabis/hashish, with 3,746 seizures totaling 509 kilograms over January-October (compared to 287 kilograms in 1996). Swedish authorities also seized 9 kilograms of heroin (compared to 26 kilograms in 1996), and 19 kilograms of cocaine (the same amount as in 1996; but in 1995, the level was a mere 4 kilograms). In 1997, (January-October), 132 seizures of ecstasy yielded 19,222 tablets as compared to 163 seizures for all of 1996 yielding 10,324 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. Foreign labs have efficient distribution systems in Sweden. Only two Swedish amphetamine labs (one a small kitchen lab, one bigger) were seized and destroyed in 1997. Police attribute this to tight controls on precursor chemicals and, mainly, to a relatively low street price for amphetamines and other drugs. It is more profitable for criminals to smuggle drugs into Sweden than to produce them in Sweden in clandestine labs.

Drug Flow/Transit. In 1997, Sweden remained a destination point for synthetic narcotics from Poland and Denmark (originally produced in Poland, The Netherlands, and Belgium) and the Baltic nations, as well as for cocaine from South America. Drugs enter the country in commercial goods, over land, by mail, by air, and by ferry. Authorities remain particularly concerned about the increase in illicit drug smuggling from the Baltics and Russia. A new concern is that East and Central Europe now produce synthetic drugs for Sweden. The Netherlands remain the source for approximately half of all amphetamines seized, but substantial amounts of amphetamines originate in Poland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary.

Police, Customs, and the Social Ministry regard Ecstasy as the biggest threat at present, since it is being marketed in aggressive ways to new groups, i.e., to very young middle-class users with no criminal record. Almost all Ecstasy seized originates from The Netherlands; so far, about 21,000 tablets have been seized in 1997.

Heroin base from labs in Turkey is often smuggled into Sweden through Germany by Kosovo Albanians, Iranians and Turks in cars. Opium and raw morphine (used to make heroin) from Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iran often passes through Eastern Europe on its way to the Nordic markets. Nigerian couriers are marketing a considerable share of all heroin sold in Stockholm. Cocaine still is most often smuggled into Sweden by flight passengers from South America, via EU airports. There are also criminal groups from Eastern Europe involved. Khat smuggling is mainly done by Somalians. Once in Sweden, few drugs are transported on to other countries.

In 1997, law enforcement officials in Sweden have not discovered drugs intended for the United States.

Demand Reduction. The Swedish National Institute of Public Health coordinates all preventative efforts. 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 are also active in drug abuse prevention and public information programs. Recent opinion polls show a more tolerant attitude to drugs, especially to cannabis and ecstasy, particularly among the young.

The GOS emphasizes drug abuse prevention combined with restrictive drug policy, enforcement measures, and drug rehabilitation. For example, Stockholm's Special 15-officer police unit went to popular nightspots to identify first time users and experimenters who are abusing and/or selling ecstasy. This law enforcement procedure has been copied in two other major cities. Under Swedish law, individuals who abuse drugs can be sentenced to drug treatment.

IV. US Policy Initiatives and Programs

Bilateral Cooperation. Swedish cooperation with United States Government law enforcement authorities continues to be excellent.

The Road Ahead. The USG looks forward to further strengthening its already good counternarcotics cooperation with Sweden, particularly in the broad Nordic-Baltic and Newly Independent States (NIS) context.


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