Police not to investigate after actor Märt Avandi reveals drug addiction
Police have spoken with Märt Avandi and will not be launching an investigation following Estonian actor's recent public disclosure of his cocaine addiction, as their priority is restricting the spread of drugs, not punishing users, the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) told ERR on Friday.
The PPA confirmed that they have already spoken with Avandi, but will not be launching an investigation, as their number one goal is to disrupt drug intermediary networks and seize drugs before they end up distributed and causing significant harm to society as a whole.
"Thus in the fight against drugs, the most important thing for us is to limit the availability of drugs, not punish users who have developed an addiction," said Margus Raspel, head of the Criminal Bureau of the PPA's West Prefecture.
He stressed that people who have ended up with substance use disorders or addictions need to be helped to break that cycle.
In an episode of "Pealtnägija" that aired on ETV on Wednesday night, Avandi revealed that he had been using cocaine and living with depression for ten years.
"On my worst days, I was capable of using 3-4 grams of cocaine," he recalled. "Which is a very, very big amount."
According to Raspel, Avandi disclosing his substance use could help others with substance use disorders or addictions as well.
"What's going on in the life of a person with a substance use disorder in many cases actually remains hidden from most people," the PPA official explained. "Which is why such public disclosures like Märt Avandi's can have a shocking impact. For those who want to break this cycle and seek help for themselves, this is mostly a very difficult fight, and coming out publicly with such and admission certainly isn't easy. I hope Avandi's disclosure will lead to other people who have ended up with an addiction to seek help too."
As price falls, intermediaries being increasingly caught
According to Raspel, intermediaries in the cocaine trade are increasingly being caught across Europe, including in Estonia.
"We're seeing in our daily work as police officers that we're catching cocaine intermediaries more often than before," the PPA official said. "The cocaine is from South America, primarily from Columbia, Peru and Bolivia. In Europe, cocaine is moved primarily through the Netherlands and Spain, which are also the primary countries from which cocaine is reaching the market in Estonia. Cocaine distribution is taking place mainly in Estonia's bigger cities."
Intermediaries are being increasingly caught as the number of users has gone up in the past decade, and according to Raspel, that increase is due to lower prices; just ten years ago, he noted, cocaine was still expensive enough to be unattainable for many, and its use restricted moreso to established circles.
"The price of cocaine today is no longer significantly higher than that of other drugs, which may also be one reason why the police are increasingly catching its intermediaries," he acknowledged. "Police can also hold people accountable for possession of large quantities of drugs, and we're seeing as we catch them that this is still a cross-section of society as a whole."
The bureau chief also noted that drugs, like all other trade, have moved online as well.
"Drugs are still being sold in person, but we're also seeing that drug offers in various groups on social media have gone up significantly," he said.
According to Raspel, the street price of cocaine is dependent on several factors, including the quantities being bought, the toxicity of the substance, the amount of fillers, even the buyer's position in the criminal chain. The street price of a gram of cocaine may be in the €100 range, he said.
Last year, police in Estonia seized nearly 13 kilograms, or 13,000 grams, of cocaine.
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Editor: Aili Vahtla