Many of Oslo’s dope-dealers are culturally enriched multiple recidivists, “asylum-seekers” who have been deported repeatedly and returned to Norway to ply their lucrative trade. Much of the time they are able to conduct their business openly, with near-impunity.
Drug dealers expelled from Oslo, but come back again
Last year 500 asylum-seekers and individuals without legal residence were arrested for selling drugs on the streets in Oslo, most of them originally from Africa. Many are deported, but they return again, again and again.
“I’ve just spotted a guy that was active here yesterday. He has come back, walking casually around the square, on the lookout for potential customers,” an undercover cop says.
“Suspect number four has a deal going on,” he says.
In a room on the third floor somewhere in the city centre two undercover police officers are keeping the area under surveillance. They observe everything that happens out there.
We are somewhere along the Aker river in Oslo, a place where hashish, pills and cocaine are sold. Most of the dealers are Africans, either asylum-seekers or individuals without legal residence.
Knows all the tricks
The dealers are part of a well-organized drug network that has a highly organized leadership structure, according to the police. To avoid arrest the dealers have been properly drilled on how to operate.
“They have depots where they store the drugs because they don’t want to get caught with it,” a police officer explains to NRK.
“They have become familiar with the Norwegian legal system, and they know if they get caught without carrying the drugs, the police have a weak case. That’s why they don’t carry larger quantities,” he adds.
The police must be able not only to prove that a drug deal has taken place but also be able to link the person who sold the drugs to a drug depot. This is very labor-intensive.
Problems with deportations
For years the police have been fighting an uphill battle to stop the overt drug trade in Oslo. Last year police in Oslo arrested 531 drug dealers. But this is when the problems start.
Many of those arrested have discarded their identification papers and refuse to reveal their identities. One of the requirements for deporting them is that their identities are known. This is very difficult and time-consuming work.
134 of those deported returned
This is the main problem: Last year the police were able to arrest and deport many of the drug dealers. But as it turns out many of those quickly returned.
Among those who were put on a plane and transported out of the country last year were134 individuals who had been deported at least once previously. It is like walking in circles.
“I have arrested a guy three times for selling drugs. He has been deported three times already, and now he’s back again,” the policeman says.
“Last time he told me he didn’t see the point of sending him out of the country because he would be back again in the area before me anyway.”
One of the places where drugs are sold openly is Grünerløkka. The local residents are worried about what’s happening in their neighborhood.
“This bridge is used by all the children attending the Møllergata elementary school,” says Anne Mikkelsen, head of the residents’ association in the area.
The bridge spanning the Aker River where NRK meets her is located in one of the areas that are teeming with drug dealers.
“Many kids have to zigzag between the drug dealers when there aren’t any security guards present at the bridge. Some days it has been so bad that the principal of Møllergata School has had to escort the kids so they could feel safe,” she says.
Approximately a 100 meters from the bridge an undercover policeman is about to check the papers of an individual who is suspected of selling drugs.
“I don’t do anything wrong. The police are my friends,” the man says when the police approach him.
Allegations of police racism are normal
“All blacks are stopped and searched in Europe,” the man who claims to be from Nigeria says.
“Is that so?” the policeman asks.
“Yes, that’s how you operate.”
The man has no drugs on him, but is expelled from the area.
Find drugs — but not enough
In Grønland the undercover cops have decided to arrest suspect number one, a man in a beige jacket.
I’ve been told to follow at least ten metres behind them and not to show my camera. If the suspect sees the camera he will run.
The two undercover cops apprehend the suspect and are able to surprise him. He turns out to be an asylum-seeker from Nigeria, living in an asylum centre in Hønefoss [city about 50 kilometres northwest of Oslo]. They are also able to locate his depot.
He is taken to the police station and interrogated. But the police are unable to start criminal proceedings against him. He came to Norway on October 31 2011, and has already been arrested three times. He has also been expelled from the area on suspicion of selling drug on five previous occasions. Eight hours after his arrest he is back out on the streets again, more than likely selling drugs again.
“Sometimes it feels like emptying a leaky boat with a teaspoon. The problem just keeps escalating,” one police officer tells NRK.
For a complete listing of previous enrichment news, see The Cultural Enrichment Archives.