International

NBI: Weapons sent to Ukraine in criminal hands

Finland’s National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) said it has information that criminals in Finland have seized military weapons, such as assault rifles, destined for Ukraine.

“Weapons Sent [by various countries] to Ukraine have also been found in Sweden, Denmark and the Netherlands,” NBI Detective Superintendent Christer Ahlgren told Yle.

International media have reported that the European law enforcement agency Europol has anticipated criminal gangs storing weapons in border areas.

Last summer, Europol issued a statement (siirryt toiseen palveluun) warning that the proliferation of firearms and explosives in Ukraine could lead to an increase in the number of firearms and ammunition smuggled into the EU via established smuggling routes or online platforms.

“We’ve seen signs that these weapons are already making their way to Finland,” Ahlgren said.

However, the NBI declined to disclose more details about these weapons, as the investigation is still ongoing.

According to Ahlgren, the routes and contacts for the trade in illegal weapons from Ukraine to Finland are already in place.

“Three of the world’s largest motorcycle gangs – which are part of larger international organizations – are active in Finland. One of them is Bandidos MC, which has a unit in every major Ukrainian city,” he explained. “We know that contacts and routes are warmed up so that they are in place.”

Since the war in Yugoslavia, the Balkan countries have been dealing with illegal arms trade.

“Ukraine has received a large amount of weapons and that is good, but we will be dealing with these weapons for decades and paying the price here,” Ahlgren said.

He also pointed out that the war in Ukraine has created more work for law enforcement officers, but has not resulted in additional police funding, according to a government report published last February.

For example, the police are tasked with following up on a growing number of drone sightings near critical infrastructure.

“Decision-makers have forgotten that the war in Ukraine has also increased police work,” he said, referring to the Finnish gateways.

Today, security checks are mandatory for airport staff, but similar screenings are not required for dockers, giving criminals a back door in Finnish ports, Ahlgren said. “Criminal organizations have their networks in Finnish trading ports. Stopping this is in everyone’s interest.”

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