The past few years proved to be a challenge for law enforcement and the law in general, regarding drugs. Studies revealed that more and more people tried drugs for the first time. More people accessed the darknet for the first time. And many people admitted that drug usage only became enticing upon discovery of the darknet—where they made their first purchase. Yet, as time passes along, law enforcement and provisional laws continually fail to stop drug trafficking on the darknet.
Sweden, much like the rest of the world, fights to prevent drug traffickers from using the postal system as a personal tool. And according to a local news outlet, Dagenssamhälle.se, the largest obstacle in the path of preventing such drug trafficking is the postal law itself. The Postal Services Act—according to Lars Lustig, the author of the paper—failed aid law enforcement in any conventional way. The law, he said, aimed at helping the postal employees and government in 1993.
“When the Postal Services Act was written in 1993, [drug dealers] were not selling drugs on the Internet, and the number of shipments of drugs sent by mail was small,” Lustig wrote. Lustig holds the position of the County Director of the County Administrative Board of Västerbotten and openly backs the fight for a change to the laws. He wrote that in 2015, the police estimated that nearly 2.5m packages contained illegal narcotics. Additionally, 90 percent of the drugs in the mail flow, in Sweden, traveled only domestically. “Postal staff are involuntarily part of drug distribution,” he explained.
According to a short piece in 2015, postal employees in northern Sweden fought for training on handling these types of circumstances. Part of the brief radio interview described the (then) upcoming training:
At the end of the year, the county administrative boards, along with the local police, begin testing and training at some key distribution points. For them [Postal workers] to feel safe there at work, they should be able to learn policies and procedures to help them handle these situations. And to help them learn to respond to times when someone picked up a [suspiscious] package. The administrative board of Norrbotten will be connected [in training] with much knowledge about that [Postal Services Act] section of the law.
Unfortunately, for law enforcement, training postal employees—by itself—proved to be insufficient. Lustig pointed, like many at the forefront of these postal changes, to the number of deaths caused by fentanyl overdose. “Since April 2015, close to 200 people died from fentanyl intoxication. Most of the products came from the mail flow.” Under the current law, postal employees have very little contact with law enforcement—even if they suspect that a package may contain drugs. That lack of communication needed to change, he expressed.
In closing, he listed the fundamental changes and their positive outcomes that he, along with other members of the Swedish government, stood behind:
- Increased cooperation between police, customs, and postal staff would reduce the staff’s concern about the threat situations they face today.
- Law enforcement authorities should recognize ongoing violations.
- Reduced availability of drugs via the internet.
- The Increased risk of detection could discourage those who want to experiment with drugs.
- Streamlining the discovery and classification of new substances of abuse.
Sweden is not alone in the list of countries with postal systems needing change. The world recently discovered, via a freedom of information request, that Australia lacked the ability to track explosives or drugs. The budget restricted any possible technological advancements that could be made in the electronic scanning or x-ray department. And U.S. Sen. Rob Portman recently introduced his bill, the Synthetics Trafficking & Overdose Prevention (STOP) Act, to fill the needs both Sweden and Australia share.