Sa, 2.12.2023

Belgian national charged with narcotics, weapons smuggling in Estonia

Belgian national charged with narcotics, weapons smuggling in Estonia.
Belgian national charged with narcotics, weapons smuggling in Estonia. Photo: Urmas Luik

Prosecutors in Estonia have sent to court a criminal case where a 35-year-old Belgian citizen is charged with the illegal handling of a substance containing nearly 100 kilograms of amphetamine, of automatic firearms prohibited for civilian use, and the illegal transport of strategic goods.

According to the indictment, in February of this year the accused agreed to deliver a large quantity of amphetamine and two Colt M16A1 automatic firearms from Brussels to Tallinn. The items were hidden in a van placed on a trailer vehicle.

Since the accused did not have the right to drive due to traffic violations, he hired a man who was not aware of the illegal goods to drive the vehicle to Tallinn.

On Feb. 14 at 7 p.m., the men set off for Estonia, driving through Germany, Poland, Lithuania and Latvia. The men entered Estonia through the Ikla border crossing point on the morning of Feb. 16. At around 10 a.m. on the same day their vehicle was stopped on the Tallinn-Parnu-Ikla road for customs checks.

During the inspection of the vehicle, officials of the Estonian Tax and Customs Board found two automatic firearms, 178 live cartridges and approximately 100 kilos of a powdery substance, which was subsequently found to contain 19,572 grams of pure amphetamine. Since the case involved the cross-border smuggling of firearms, the investigation was taken over by the Internal Security Service.

Kaido Tuulemae, specialized prosecutor at the West District Prosecutor's Office, said the defendant's actions were purposeful and care had been taken for the illegal goods to be well concealed.

"The weapons and the amphetamine were hidden in such a way that it would be as difficult as possible to detect them during a random inspection. The firearms were hidden in the cavity of a component of a sofa that was in the van. The amphetamine was in the sofa's bedding compartment in five black sports bags, each containing 20 plastic packages with powder. The sports bags were in turn covered with a blanket, the edges of the bedding compartment had been impregnated with a strong smelling substance and the van's cargo space was filled to the top with various boxes, carpets, furniture, equipment and other items," the prosecutor said.

Since the second man, who was driving the vehicle, did not know about the illegal goods, the criminal proceedings against him were closed.

The illegal handling of a narcotic substance in large quantities is punishable by three to 15 years in jail in Estonia, the illegal transportation of strategic goods as member of a group by two to 10 years in jail, and the handling of a firearm prohibited for civilian use by one to five years in jail.