Swedish drug buster in Thailand

Globalization is the word that has been on everybody’s lips for quite a while. To most people it mainly concerns economical matters. But to most polices around the globe it also means that new crime constellations are formed and that numerous crimes and criminals becomes harder to trace.
     The Scandinavian police and customs force started to cooperate some twenty years ago to make the fight against drug trafficking more effective. Now the cooperation has widened to cover all organized crime that has any connection to the Nordic countries. Currently the so called PTN is represented in seventeen countries. In Greece there is a Swede, in Spain two Norwegians, in Germany two Danes, in Bangkok a Dane and one Swede and so forth.
     The Swede in Bangkok, Stefan Erlandsson, is 46 years old and has been a policeman since he was in his twenties. Shoplifters, thieves, drug dealers and the immaculate economical criminals, Stefan has meet them all over the years. Mostly he has been involved in investigations around crimes connected to narcotics. His thorough knowledge about the drug industry is most likely one of the reasons why he was picked for the position in Bangkok.
     “About 60 % of the work here is connected to drug related crimes,” Stefan states.
Stefan Erlandsson’s assignment in Bangkok is above all a matter of being a link between the police and customs authorities in the Nordic countries and the equivalents in this region.
     “I am engaged in cases that in one way or another concerns both these parts of the world. I am also participating in conferences and seminars, I try to exchange information and experience, I give lectures and I represent the Nordic countries when it comes to police matters around Asia. However it is important to stress that I can’t arrest someone here, I am just kind of a guest in this country.”
     The crime scene is undoubtedly more internationally focused today. The criminal organizations are keeping almost the same pace as the technical development . The only way to cope with that is to increase the cooperation between countries.
     “Bangkok is a very good example on that fact. Around sixty policemen from twenty-three nations are based here and working all over Asia. To us from northern Europe it is vital to be on this arena in order to work efficiently against drug dealing, trafficking and all other crimes.”
     Even though the crimes to a certain extent are the same in Thailand and Scandinavia the criminal code is totally different. So are the conditions in the prisons. Usually Scandinavian criminals prefers an extradition from Thailand rather than to stay in prison there.
     “It is difficult to compare the criminal codes since there is such a big difference in the conditions, both culturally, economically and geographically. Still, we are working in the same direction and towards the same goals even though the punishment is different.. That is what makes this job so interesting.”
     When talking about he Asian police force it is hard not to mention all the suspicions of corruption. Indonesia is considered having most problems of that kind.
     “I have probably met corrupt policemen without knowing,” Stefan admits. “But corruption among policemen are not only widespread in Asia but around the whole world. It has occurred in Sweden too. After four years in Thailand I am pretty sure that this is the Asian country that has made most progress in fighting corruption.”
     The most frequent crime the Thai police is fighting is the increasing amount of drugs passing the border in and out of the country.
     “We are not expected to actively take part in the cases where we have asked for assistance. Right now I am dealing with 370 cases. We are chasing drug smugglers and are trying to find internationally wanted Nordic criminals among other things. It is hard to find people in Bangkok though, it is quite easy to hide in a city with more than eleven million inhabitants. But with good help from the local police we are managing pretty well in finding the people we want.”
     Reports about pedophiles from Scandinavia is another important matter where the Nordic police is cooperating with their Thai colleagues.
     “It is less than I first thought when I moved here. Probably it is partly because the Thai authorities have made some efforts to change the situation. Thailand is not as comfortable for pedophiles anymore, they seem to have moved to countries with weaker laws and poorer economy. Cambodia, Philippines and Vietnam are popular.”
     Statistically Bangkok is one of the busiest positions for Scandinavian policemen working abroad. One of the most extensive investigations, which Stefan Erlandsson has been a part of during his time in Bangkok, was a one year cooperation between Swedish, Danish and Thai police which was finished last year.
     “We worked on a heroin case in which thirteen people of different nationalities were caught. A total of 48,7 kilo of pure heroin was confiscated in Thailand. That is worth around 90 million euro on the open market.”
     Surprisingly enough it is not the drug dealing which is most frightening to Stefan Erlandsson – although he thinks it’s one of the worst, unfair and costly crimes in the world. It’s the rising indiscriminate and unprovoked violence.
     “The kind of destructive and unprovoked violence which we currently see in Europe is extremely alarming. That is not at all as common in Asia. In a big city like Bangkok one rarely reads about robbery, malicious damage of public or private property and assault on innocent people.”
     Stefan Erlandsson and his family are moving back to Sweden this summer. They have truly enjoyed their time in Bangkok.
     “I actually prefer Bangkok to Stockholm when it comes to walking home in the middle of the night. Because it is always much warmer! Probably it is safer as well.”

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