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Cablegate: Finland: 2005 International Narcotics Control

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.




E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: STATE 209561

1. (U) This report is keyed to the relevant sections in
reftel. Embassy poc for the drugs and chemical diversion
control portion of the INCSR is Poloff David Allen Schlaefer
( Embassy poc for the financial
crimes portion of the INCSR is Econoff Mika Cleverley


(U) Finland is not a significant narcotics producing or
trafficking country. However, drug use and drug-related
crime has increased over the past decade. Finland's
constitution places a strong emphasis on the protection of
civil liberties, and this sometimes has a negative effect on
law enforcement's ability to investigate and prosecute
drug-related crime. Electronic surveillance techniques such
as wiretapping are generally prohibited in all but the most
serious investigations. Finnish political culture tends to
favor demand reduction and rehabilitation efforts over
strategies aimed at reducing supply. Police believe
increased drug use may be attributable to the wider
availability of narcotics in post-cold war Europe, increased
experimentation by Finnish youth, cultural de-stigmatization
of narcotics use, and insufficient law enforcement resources.

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(U) While there is some overland narcotics trafficking
across the Russian border, police believe existing border
controls are mostly effective in preventing this route from
becoming a major trafficking conduit into Finland and western
Europe. Estonian organized crime syndicates are believed
responsible for most drug trafficking into Finland.
Estonia's accession to the Schengen Treaty has complicated
law enforcement efforts to combat narcotics trafficking.
Asian crime syndicates have begun to use new air routes
between Helsinki and Asian cities like Bangkok to facilitate
trafficking-in-persons, and there is some concern that these
routes could be used for narcotics trafficking as well.
Finland is a major donor to the UNDCP and is active in
counternarcotics efforts within the EU. Finland is a party
to the 1988 UN Drug Convention.


(U) Narcotics production, cultivation, and the production of
precursor chemicals in Finland is relatively modest in scope.
Most drugs that are consumed in Finland are produced
elsewhere, and Finland is not a source country for the export
of narcotics abroad. Estonia, Russia, and Spain are
Finland's principal sources for illicit drugs. Finnish law
criminalizes the distribution, sale, and transport of
narcotics; the GoF cooperates with other countries and
international law enforcement organizations regarding
extradition and precursor chemical control. Domestic drug
abuse and rehabilitation programs are excellent, although
access to rehabilitation programs for prison inmates was
criticized in 2005 as being insufficient due to resource

(U) The overall incidence of drug use in Finland remains low
(relative to many other western countries); however, drug
use has increased over the past decade. Cocaine is rare, but
amphetamines, methamphetamine, synthetic "club" drugs, and
heroin and heroin-substitutes can be found. Finland has
historically had one of Europe's lowest cannabis-use rates,
but cannabis seizures have increased since 2004; police
attribute this to new smuggling routes from southern Spain, a
popular tourist destination for Finns and home to a Finnish
"migr" community. Ecstasy, GHB, Ketamine ("Vitamin K") and
other MDMA-type drugs are concentrated among young people and
associated with the "club culture" in Helsinki and other
large cities. Social Welfare authorities believe the
introduction of GHB and other "date rape" drugs into Finland
has led to an increase in sexual assaults. Finnish law
enforcement authorities admit that resource constraints and
restrictions on electronic surveillance and undercover police
work complicate efforts to penetrate the ecstasy trade.
Changing social and cultural attitudes toward drug use also
contribute to this phenomenon.

(U) Heroin use began to increase in Finland in the late
90's, but seizures have declined since 2004. Subutex
(buprenorphine) and other heroin-substitutes seem to have
supplanted actual heroin use to some extent. France remains
the major source for Subutex. According to police, French
doctors can prescribe up to three weeks supply of Subutex.
Finnish couriers travel frequently to France to obtain their
supply which is then resold illegally with a high mark-up.
Possession of Subutex is legal in Finland with a doctor's
prescription, but Finnish physicians do not readily write
prescriptions for Subutex unless patients are actually in a
supervised withdrawal program.

(U) According to Finnish law enforcement, there are
approximately two dozen organized crime syndicates operating
in Finland; most are based in Estonia or Russia. Since
Estonia's entry into the Schengen Region, Estonian travelers
to Finland are no longer subject to routine inspection at
ports-of-entry, making it difficult to intercept narcotics.
The police report that a drug dealer in Helsinki can phone a
supplier in Tallinn, and within three hours a courier will
have arrived in Helsinki via ferry with a shipment of drugs.
Although Estonian syndicates control the operations, many of
the domestic street-level dealers are Finns. In the past,
the Estonian rings primarily smuggled Belgian or Dutch-made
ecstasy into Finland, but beginning in 2003, larger
quantities of Estonian-produced ecstasy began hitting the
Finnish market, although the quality (and market value) is
lower. Estonian smugglers also organize the shipment of
Moroccan cannabis from Southern Spain to Finland. The police
report that cooperation with Estonian law enforcement is
excellent, and both countries maintain permanent liaison
officers in the other.

(U) Russian organized crime syndicates remain active inside
Finland. Russian traffickers based out of St. Petersburg are
the primary suppliers of heroin, although Estonians are now
active in this area as well. The police are increasingly
concerned about Asian crime groups using new air routes from
Helsinki to major Asian cities like Bangkok as a narcotics
smuggling route. Asian syndicates are already using these
routes for human smuggling and trafficking-in-persons.
Finland's Frontier Guard will post a permanent liaison
officer to Beijing in 2006 to better monitor this phenomenon.


(U) POLICY INITIATIVES: Finland's comprehensive policy
statement on illegal drugs was issued in 1998; the statement
articulated a zero-tolerance policy regarding narcotics.
However, a 2001 law created a system of fines for simple
possession offenses rather than jail time. The fine system
enjoys widespread popular support, and is chiefly used to
punish youth found in possession of small quantities of
marijuana, hashish, or ecstasy. Some Finnish authorities
have expressed concern about the "mixed message" that the
fine system sends to Finns about drug use and would prefer
stiffer penalties. There is limited political and public
support for demand reduction through stronger punitive
measures, however.

(U) ACCOMPLISHMENTS: The GoF's strategy in 2005 focused on
regional and multilateral cooperation aimed at stemming the
flow of drugs before they reach Finland's borders. In 2005,
Parliament passed a law expanding the authority of the
Frontier Guard to cover the entire country (not just
immediate border areas), enhancing the Guard's ability to
combat narcotics trafficking. Finland participated in
several multilateral conferences and seminars on combating
narcotics globally and in the Nordic-Baltic region.
Finland's Interior Minister met with other Nordic ministers
to discuss regional narcotics strategy, and in September
visited Washington where he met with U.S. officials to
discuss transnational security issues. Finland played an
active role in EU efforts to combat narcotics trafficking.

(U) LAW ENFORCEMENT EFFORTS: The police report that arrests
and seizures in 2005 are projected to have remained stable
(statistics are not yet available). Law enforcement focuses
limited police resources on major narcotics cases and
significant traffickers. The Frontier Guard plans to station
a permanent liaison officer in Asia (Beijing) for the first
time in order to better monitor and combat narcotics
trafficking. Finland in 2005 continued its impressive record
of multilateral cooperation. Finnish police maintain liaison
officers in ten European cities (six in Russia). The
Prosecutor-General's Office maintains liaison officers in St.
Petersburg, Tallinn, and Moscow. In addition, Finland and
the other Nordic countries pool their resources and share
information gathered by Nordic liaison officers stationed in
34 posts around the world. Finland is active in Europol and
Eurojust anti-narcotics efforts. Finland in 2005 chaired the
Council of Baltic Sea States/Organized Crime Task Force, and
a Finn was appointed as the first Director of the new EU
Border Control Agency.

(U) CORRUPTION: As a matter of government policy, Finland
does not encourage or facilitate illicit production or
distribution of narcotic or psychotropic drugs or other
controlled substances, or the laundering of proceeds from
illegal drug transactions. Finnish officials do not engage
in, facilitate, or encourage the illicit production or
distribution of such drugs or substances, or the laundering
of proceeds from illegal drug transactions. Official
corruption is not a problem in Finland. There have been no
arrests or prosecutions of public officials charged with
corruption or related offenses linked to narcotics in Finnish

(U) AGREEMENTS AND TREATIES: Finland is a party to the 1988
UN Drug Convention, and its legislation is consistent with
all the Convention's goals. Finnish judicial authorities are
empowered to seize the assets, real and financial, of
criminals. Finland is also a party to the 1961 UN Single
Convention on Narcotic Drugs, the 1972 Protocol Amending the
Single Convention, and the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic
Substances. Finland has extradition treaties with many
countries, and ratified the EU extradition treaty in 1999.
Finland ratified the EU Arrest Warrant in 2005. Finland is a
signatory to the UN Convention Against Transnational Crime,
the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress, and Punish Trafficking in
Persons, and the Protocol Against the Smuggling of Migrants.
A 1976 bilateral extradition treaty is in force between the
United States and Finland, although Finland will only
extradite non-Finnish citizens to the U.S. Finland is 2004
signed the bilateral instrument of the EU-U.S. Extradition
Treaty; however, the Parliament has not yet ratified the
treaty over concern that certain U.S. rendition practices in
Europe might violate Finnish constitutional guarantees.

(U) Finland has also concluded a Customs Mutual Assistance
Agreement with the United States. Finland is a member of the
major Donor's Group within the Dublin Group. The vast
majority of Finland's financial and other assistance to
drug-producing and transit countries has been via the UNDCP.
Finland concluded a bilateral extradition treaty with Estonia
shortly after that country gained independence.

(U) CULTIVATION/PRODUCTION: There were no reported seizures
of indigenously cultivated opiates, no recorded diversions of
precursor chemicals, and no detection of illicit
methamphetamine, cocaine, or LSD laboratories in Finland in
2004; reports for 2005 are not yet available. Finland's
climate makes cultivation of cannabis and opiates almost
impossible. Local cannabis cultivation is believed to be
limited to small numbers of plants in individual homes using
artificial lighting for personal use. The distribution of
the 22 key precursor chemicals used for cocaine, amphetamine,
and heroin production is tightly controlled.

(U) DRUG FLOW/TRANSIT: Hashish and ecstasy are the drugs
most often seized by the police. Finland is not a transit
country for narcotics. Most drugs trafficked into Finland
originate in or pass through Estonia. Finnish authorities
report that their land border with Russia is well guarded on
both sides to ensure that it does not become a major transit

emphasizes rehabilitation and education over punitive
measures to curb demand for illegal drugs. The central
government gives substantial autonomy to local governments to
address demand reduction using general revenue grants.
Finnish schools in 2005 continued to educate students about
the dangers of drugs. Finland's national public health
service offered rehabilitation services to users and addicts.
Such programs typically use a holistic approach that
emphasizes social and economic reintegration into society and
is not solely focused on eliminating the subject's use and
abuse of illegal drugs. The government was criticized in
2005 for failure to provide adequate access to rehabilitation
programs for prison inmates.


(U) The U.S. has historically worked with Finland and the
other Nordic countries through multilateral organizations in
an effort to combat narcotics trafficking in the
Nordic-Baltic region. This involves assistance to and
cooperation with the Baltic countries and Russia. Finland in
2005 participated in a DEA-sponsored regional drug
enforcement seminar.

(U) BILATERAL COOPERATION: Finnish law enforcement
maintains a close relationship with American counterparts;
cooperation is excellent.

(U) THE ROAD AHEAD: The U.S. anticipates continued close
cooperation with Finland in the fight against narcotics. The
only limitations to such cooperation will likely be the
smaller resource base that Finnish law enforcement
authorities have at their disposal.


(U) 2005 statistics for narcotics seizures and arrests are
not yet available; septel with statistics will follow as soon
as they are released by the GoF.


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