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Viewing cable 09REYKJAVIK82, BIGGEST DRUG BUST IN ICELAND'S HISTORY REVEALS

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09REYKJAVIK82 2009-04-27 16:04 2011-01-13 05:05 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Reykjavik
VZCZCXRO9997
PP RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDBU RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA
RUEHLN RUEHLZ RUEHNP RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSK RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHRK #0082/01 1171627
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 271627Z APR 09
FM AMEMBASSY REYKJAVIK
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4061
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RHMFIUU/DEPT OF HOMELAND SECURITY WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
RUEHNA/DEA WASHDC
RUEKDIA/DIA WASHDC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 REYKJAVIK 000082 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SENSITIVE 
 
STATE FOR EUR/NB, INL 
COPENHAGEN FOR DEA, LEGATT 
OSD-P FOR FENTON 
DHS FOR USCG INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS LT ERO 
 
E.O. 12958:  N/A 
TAGS: SNAR PGOV ASEC KCRM IC
SUBJECT:  BIGGEST DRUG BUST IN ICELAND'S HISTORY REVEALS 
COORDINATION ACROSS AGENCIES 
 
1.  (U) Summary:  Around midnight on Saturday, April 18, police 
arrested three men near the harbor town of Hofn in southeast Iceland 
on suspicion of smuggling more than 109 kg (240 pounds) of 
amphetamines, MDMA (ecstasy), hashish, and marijuana into Iceland by 
boat.  The men had allegedly picked up the drugs from a sailboat off 
the southeast coast, packed the drugs into vehicles and were driving 
towards Reykjavik when they were arrested.  The heist was remarkable 
for the joint coordination efforts.  Over 100 people participated in 
the police operations including members of the Reykjavik 
Metropolitan Police; police departments in Eastern Iceland; the 
National Police Commissioner; the Icelandic Coast Guard; the Danish 
military; and the Icelandic Defense Agency.   Post is encouraged by 
these efforts and hopes the coordination can continue regardless of 
rumored difficulties with budget cuts.  End Summary. 
 
2.  (U) On April 18-19, Icelandic police and Coast Guard officers 
coordinated in the largest narcotics seizure in the country's 
history.  The operation resulted from ongoing investigations and 
liaison with other European police units, combined with a tip from a 
vigilant fishing vessel crew.  Stefan Eiriksson, the Commissioner of 
the Metropolitan Police, told a press conference that the 
investigations conducted by the Icelandic Coast Guard and the 
Metropolitan Police had been ongoing for some time.  However, they 
acted quickly when an Icelandic fishing vessel notified the police 
authorities of the movements of a suspicious sailboat heading 
towards the coast of Iceland.  The Icelandic media reported that on 
April 18, three men piloted a rented inflatable boat with an 
outboard motor from Djupivogur, a small town on the east coast of 
Iceland, to pick up 240 pounds of drugs from a rented Belgian 
sailboat south east of the Icelandic coast.  The men returned with 
the drugs to Djupivogur, loaded them into a vehicle and headed to 
Reykjavik.  Later that night police stopped the car near Hofn and 
arrested the three men. 
 
3. (U) At the same time, the Icelandic Coast Guard (ICG) started 
pursuing the sailboat by sea.  On April 19, the ICG's fixed wing 
aircraft also joined in the search, and the aircraft located the 
sailboat midway between Iceland and the Faroe Islands.  The crew 
established radio contact with the sailboat but the men aboard 
disregarded orders to stop.  While the ICG aircraft returned to 
Iceland to refuel, a Danish military Challenger CL604 airplane 
replaced it, keeping up the pursuit.  Finally, late on the 19th, the 
ICG ship caught up with the sailboat 74 nautical miles (85 miles) 
northwest of the Faroe Islands.  Four members of the Special Unit of 
the National Police Commissioner (the Viking Squad), who had been 
transported aboard the ICG vessel earlier in a helicopter, boarded 
the sailboat and arrested three men, two Icelanders and a Dutchman. 
The ICG vessel and the sailboat returned to Iceland on April 21. 
 
4.  (U) Over 100 people participated in the operation, including: 
members of the Reykjavik Metropolitan Police; police departments in 
Eastern Iceland;  the National Police Commissioner;  the Icelandic 
Coast Guard;  and the Danish military, which provided a Challenger 
CL604 aircraft to provide air surveillance relieving the ICG's 
aircraft during refueling.  The Danish contribution was coordinated 
through the Iceland Defense Agency after the ICG asked for help in 
finding available NATO assets.  Fridrik Jonsson, of the Defense 
Agency told EmbOff, "From the time the Coast Guard contacted us, the 
process of contacting and coordinating with both NATO's Combined Air 
Operations Center in Finderup, Denmark, and the air forces of 
neighboring allies was relatively straight forward." 
 
5.   (U) About half of the 240 pounds of drugs confiscated consisted 
of white materials (cocaine, amphetamines etc.) and the other half 
of hashish, marijuana, and a couple of thousand MDMA (ecstasy) 
tablets.  As the proportions of the various drugs have not been 
disclosed exactly, street value cannot be verified but it is clear 
that it amounts to millions of dollars, making this the biggest drug 
bust in Icelandic history.  This case is reminiscent of the 2007 
Pole Star case where the Icelandic police authorities raided the 
sailboat Pole Star where it was stationed at the Faskrudsfjordur (a 
small town on the east coast of Iceland) harbor and confiscated 90 
pounds of drugs.  In that case, one defendant was sentenced to 7.5 
years in prison, two others received a seven-year sentence, and a 
fourth defendant was sentenced to five years.  Other defendants 
received lighter sentences.  Also of note is the inclusion of 
marijuana in the seized shipment.  In the last few years, smuggling 
of marijuana to Iceland has been declining as it has increasingly 
been grown domestically.  Recently the Icelandic police authorities 
 
REYKJAVIK 00000082  002 OF 002 
 
 
have been very active in infiltrating and stopping these domestic 
operations and Commissioner Eiriksson noted that the presence of 
marijuana in the confiscated drugs highlighted the police's success; 
i.e., dealers are resorting to smuggling marijuana into the country 
rather than relying on domestic production. 
 
6.  (SBU) Comment: Beyond the successful work by a variety of law 
enforcement agencies, the cooperation between the Iceland Defense 
Agency and the Coast Guard is remarkable as they have been fighting 
a bitter duel in the press over budget and areas of responsibility. 
Post is encouraged by these efforts and hopes the coordination can 
continue regardless of the outcome over budget issues.  We also 
anticipate a rise in seizures as the summer travel season gets 
underway, particularly with the resumption of ferry service between 
eastern Iceland, Norway, Denmark, and the Faroes. 
 
van Voorst