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Finland’s Drug Czar Busted for Hashish Smuggling

Bill Weinberg

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On Thursday, Finland’s former drug czar,  Jari Aarnio, was sentenced by a district court in Helsinki to a 10-year prison term on charges of smuggling nearly 800 kilograms of hashish into the country from the Netherlands.

Aarnio stepped down as head of Helsinki’s drug squad—the highest anti-narcotics post in the country—in 2013, when he was charged wth corruption in a case related to his interest in a company that sold surveillance equipment to his own force. The investigation in that case unleashed new revelations, ultimately leading to his indictment along with 12 other defendants in the hashish scheme. The ring is said to have brought in the 800 kilos (1,760 pounds) in barrels between 2011 and 2012.

The court ordered that Aarnio be taken into custody immediately, and he is now locked up in Helsinki’s Vantaa Prison.

The court had harsh words for Aarnio in its judgment, charging that he “obstructed the investigation into the import of hashish barrels in various ways,” and “unscrupulously abused his position” at the Helsinki Police Department, where he served for 30 years.

The Nordic countries generally have pretty conservative drug laws, and Finland’s are the harshest. Mere consumption of illicit drugs is punishable by up to six months’ imprisonment. If the offense is deemed to be “petty” (that is, concerning a small quantity for personal use), the penalty may be waived. But the law does not make any distinction between substances, with cannabis subject to the same penalties as heroin and cocaine.

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