Stronger cocaine than ever before is being smuggled into Iceland – and in larger amounts than have ever been seen before, RÚV reports. Iceland’s three largest cocaine smuggling cases have all occurred since the beginning of this year. Although large packages have been confiscated on their way into the country, the price of the drug has not risen, which points to there being enough of it on the market.
Records broken repeatedly
Decades ago, the largest cocaine cases in Iceland were measured in the hundreds of grams. In 1988 and 1993, two cases arose which were the biggest of their time, one involving just under a kilo while the other just over a kilo of cocaine that was discovered and confiscated. In 2007, 3.8 kilograms of cocaine were smuggled into the country from Cuxhaven, Germany, which set a new record. In December 2017, an Icelandic man smuggled 4.7 kilograms of cocaine into the country from Barcelona. That amount was topped this year in May.
This year alone, there have been seven cases involving half a kilo or more of cocaine smuggled into the country, which is the benchmark for “large” smuggling cases. The first of these cases is by far the largest in Icelandic history, involving two young Icelanders who smuggled over 16 kilograms of cocaine in two suitcases. They have since been convinced alongside a third man.
Not only are three of this year’s seven cases the largest in Icelandic history, but the cocaine being smuggled into the country is much stronger than it was decades ago. Cocaine traces in Icelandic wastewater have quadrupled in the last two years. The development is being attributed to Icelandic criminals in South America.
Linked to prosperity
Much of the cocaine found on its way into the country is discovered at Keflavík International Airport. Guðrún Sólveig Ríkarðsdóttir, its head customs officer, says authorities are sometimes tipped off about smuggling in advance, though often it’s customs officers’ keen eye that spots when something is going on. “It can be all kinds of things. It can be body language. It can even be the trip itself.”
Guðrún says that officers often seize individuals who are transporting the cocaine internally “both inserted and swallowed.” She adds that most smugglers are regular people who have found themselves in dire financial straits. “It could be drug debt, it could be people on expensive medication,” she says.
When asked what lies behind the spike in smuggling, Guðrún speculated: “We might maybe start by linking this with prosperity in the country, and we know that demand is high – otherwise this high volume wouldn’t be circulating. We also know that the street price has not been rising despite all of these seizures, and that also tells us that there’s plenty on the market.”