Big Brother’s spam: Controversial methods in the hunt for Swedish drug buyers

In Sweden, the police focus a large part of their efforts on users and buyers of narcotics. This is happening at the same time as the country is plagued by one of Europe’s most violent drug markets, where both executions and bomb explosions have become part of everyday life. To intensify the police’s outdated methods, two new laws have recently been introduced. One law criminalizes attempts at minor drug offences, while the other gives the police and postal staff the right to search postal items if there is suspicion of narcotics. So when large parts of the world choose to decriminalize and legalize, Sweden is going in a completely different direction.

With these legislative changes, the police have begun to contact people who have ordered suspicious shipments or whose phone numbers have been found in the confiscated phones of arrested dealers. The recipients of such communications can deny knowledge of packages or purchases, but the police have now started conducting home visits. In Sweden, the police can fabricate suspicion of drug offences by referring to signs such as red eyes, which has led to some people who opened the door to the police being reported and prosecuted.

In addition to these home visits, the police have also started sending mass mailings via SMS to people whose numbers are on lists from confiscated drug dealers’ phones. These SMS messages are often vaguely worded in a way that is intentional and can seem intimidating, creating uncertainty among recipients. The purpose of these messages is to discourage people from continuing to use drugs.

A high-profile case involved a man who appeared on a list for SWISH payments (mobile payments in Sweden) and was prosecuted in a trial. The man was acquitted in the lowest instance as the court found that there was insufficient evidence. Just being on a “SWISH list” was not enough for a conviction. Despite this, the police continue to work against buyers of narcotics in the same way. The judgment has been appealed

In Sweden, it is possible to request information from preliminary investigations, which led to such a list of names from an investigation being leaked and published on social media. This publication has caused a great stir and resulted in the police now refusing to hand over any more lists.

This focus on users and buyers of narcotics has sparked debate about how the judicial system handles the drug problem in Sweden. Critics believe that resources should be spent on fighting the larger networks and stopping serious crime instead of persecuting individual users. At the same time, the police defend their methods by saying that every effort against drugs, regardless of level, contributes to reducing the market and thus overall crime. The debate on the effectiveness and fairness of these methods continues, while violence and uncertainty in the drug market persist.

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