Customs officials in Sweden will be equipped with service pistols and rifles to protect themselves against drug gangs amid an alarming increase in serious, violent crime at the Swedish border.
In a press release following a report to the Swedish government on Monday, the chief customs officer said the organization has a duty to ensure the safety of its staff who are increasingly more likely to come into contact with violent criminals smuggling narcotics across European borders.
“Recent developments with increasingly serious crime have meant that we have to create safer working conditions,” said Director General of Customs Charlotte Svensson.
She explained that the confiscation of large quantities of drugs is happening “more and more frequently” from “criminals with great potential for violence” who may opt to attack customs officials when considering the street value of the product being seized.
Currently, Swedish customs officers are only equipped with batons and pepper spray, and one officer appeared to be pleased with the upgrade to their armory.
“In Sweden, criminals shoot without blinking an eye, and who says they won’t do the same if we expose them with drugs or weapons?” an anonymous official told SVT Nyheter.
Sweden’s ongoing problems with gang crime and violence are well documented and have been extensively covered by Remix News.
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In September last year, Swedish National Police Commissioner Anders Thornberg said the country was witnessing an unprecedented wave of bloody gang warfare and shootings following a spate of gruesome attacks.
“Several boys aged between 13 and 15 have been killed, a criminal’s mother was murdered in her home, and a young man was shot dead on his way to work in Uppsala,” the Swedish police chief said in a televised press conference.
In 2022, a record 60 fatal shootings were recorded throughout the country, and by the start of December last year, 50 people had been murdered in shootings in 2023. There were also 140 bombings, up considerably from the 90 recorded incidents the previous year.
Swedish police estimate approximately 30,000 people are directly involved with or have ties to gang crime throughout the country, including 9,000 active members and 21,000 associates, many of whom are minors who are increasingly being groomed to conduct serious criminal offenses on behalf of the criminal gangs.
In addition to drug smuggling, the Swedish Customs Agency confiscated 93 million SEK (€8.15 million) in cash at the borders in 2023, up 22 million SEK from the previous year.
“Proceeds of crime are taken out of Sweden to be laundered in other countries. The money then ends up in the pockets of serious criminals who control the drug trade and smuggling. Of course, we have to fight that,” Svensson added.