Finnish police say they found a massive smuggling operation that brought drugs from the Netherlands to Finland that were hidden in batches of flowers.
According to law enforcement agencies, between mid-2018 and May last year, there were 17 drug shipments. They estimate the street value of the drug at more than 20 million euros.
Two Dutch men are suspected of leading the drug operation. Police say they have investigated more than 50 people for possible involvement in the criminal operation, but did not say how many are now under arrest.
Authorities have confiscated the proceeds of crime of more than one million euros and real estate of about 700,000 euros.
Police departments in Helsinki, Häme, south-eastern Finland and Ostrobothnia cooperated with the National Board of Investigation (NBI).
They cooperated with the Dutch and German authorities and with Europol and the EU Agency for Criminal Judicial Cooperation (Eurojust), both of which operate in the Netherlands.
Drug caches in the flower delivery route
Two Dutch men, aged 44 and 47, are believed to be the main organizers of the operation. They are suspected of having acquired drugs in the Netherlands before being packed and loaded for transport to Finland.
The suspects had set up a company to bring Dutch flowers and houseplants to Finland via the Vuosaari harbor in eastern Helsinki. Deliveries included hidden drugs.
The freight company is not suspected of involvement in the crimes.
In Finland, drugs were usually delivered along the route when flowers and plants were delivered to stores and then picked up by customers.
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According to police, the main customers were two separate criminal organizations located in the metropolitan area, one consisting mainly of East Africa and the other mainly of the Middle East.
Drug trafficking in the metropolitan area “highly international”
"This is a good example of organized drug trafficking and crime in the metropolitan area at the moment: very international. In the past, drug trafficking dominated [motorcycle] gangs, but now groups from abroad have a really big impact," said the senior detective superintendent Markku Heinikari On the professional crime of the Helsinki police.
According to Heinikari, each international criminal group is united by a common language and ethnic background, which is often common to their clients as well.
The gang is suspected of making major purchases from the Dutch syndicate between late 2019 and early 2020, including more than 200 pounds of marijuana, 11,000 ecstasy tablets and nearly a pound of cocaine. Illegal substances were distributed in the metropolitan area using temporary housing and rented vehicles.
16 people were arrested in the Helsinki metropolitan area for this division. Three of them are still under arrest.
According to preliminary investigations, smugglers distributed a total of 310 kg of marijuana, 312 kg of amphetamine, 53 kg of hashish, 15 kg of cocaine, 14 kg of MDMA, 2 kg of methamphetamine, 142,000 ecstasy tablets, 19,000 LSD tabs, 100,000 Xanax in Finland and Stockholm tablets, 2 kg of ketamine and more than 50,000 other pills.
Three of the 17 batches of drugs passed through Finland to Stockholm, Sweden.
"Preliminary research has provided a clear picture of a large, systematic drug import and transportation organization. In connection with the investigation, operations have been carried out in various parts of Finland," NBI Chief Inspector Jari Räty said in a statement on Thursday.
One of the key people in the tire is a 29-year-old Dutch man who lived in Espoo. Police arrested him and another Dutch man at a service station in Sipoo, just east of Helsinki. Another man drove a van that contained nearly 50 pounds of marijuana and more than 5,000 ecstasy tablets. A search of the 29-year-old’s home found large amounts of cash, drugs and supplies.
Source: The Nordic Page