Norwegian customs agents have reported a threefold increase in the amount of cannabis confiscated at the nation’s borders.
Through the first six months of 2016, the Directorate of Norwegian Customs has seized 1,600 kg of cannabis, while just 550 kg was seized in the first half of last year. The agency director general, Bjørn Røse, said the increase may indicate that cannabis use is on the rise both in Norway and elsewhere in Europe.
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“Cannabis use has remained stable in Norway for several years, but the new figures give cause for concern,” he said. Røse said that major seizures had been made in trailer transports, vans and campers.
“It's mostly Europeans of different nationalities who are smugglers,” he said. Most of the cannabis being smuggled into Norway comes from North Africa and has had a long journey through Europe before it reaches the Norwegian border, he added.
This year there has been a slight increase in the overall number of customs seizures, going from about 17,400 in the first half of last year to 18,500 this year. Of these, 2,100 were drug seizures.
The majority of the confiscations were of alcohol and tobacco. There have been around 8,500 alcohol seizures and 5,400 tobacco seizures in the first six months of this year. Both numbers are small increases compared to the year before.
“When it comes to smuggling alcohol and cigarettes, it is mostly Eastern Europeans who are behind it,” Røse said.
Confiscations of hard drugs like amphetamines, cocaine and heroin, have declined. In the first half of last year, agents seized about 165 kg of amphetamines, while so far this year they’ve only confiscated 89 kg.
“There is a natural variability [since] we can only take so much of what comes to Norway’s borders. Had we taken everything, the numbers would have been much more stable,” Røse said.
The Local-NTB/July 5, 2016
Photo: Erlend Aas, NTB scanpix
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