As a result of the operations carried out by the investigation department of the Tax and Customs Board, several Estonian citizens were suspected of importing and selling drugs on the Estonian market and faced criminal proceedings.
In July, seven Estonian citizens suspected of bringing and selling drugs into Estonia were detained by staff of the Tax and Customs Board (MTA) Investigation Department.
During the detentions, a kilogram of high-purity cocaine was seized and various drug handling tools, such as scales, grooved plastic bags, were found.
Subsequent prosecutions identified two men who were alleged to have been the organizers of the activities of the criminal group. One suspect was arrested at Germany's Frankfurt airport in late July, another suspect was arrested in Estonia August, who had previously been in Turkey for a long time.
According to Raul Koppelmaa, head of the drug service of the MTA, the evidence gathered during the criminal proceedings shows that each member of the criminal group had a specific role to play, such as organizers, couriers, drug packers and local dealers.
"Our goal is always to identify all of the group members who deal with drugs in Estonia and to stop the work of the whole group. Therefore, it is not always useful to arrest couriers when crossing the border but to wait and track the whole group," added Koppelmaa.
Since the group is suspected of having made a large amount of money from the sale of cocaine, one of its members has been charged with a crime which has a sentence of between six to 20 years in prison.
Over the past year, both the MTA and the Central Criminal Police have detained several people who handled a kilo or more of highly purified cocaine. Most of them have already been before a judge and received court rulings.
"With rising living standards in Estonia, demand for more expensive drugs, such as cocaine, is also rising in some societies. That demand was met by the same group of seven, who now need to conduct a more thorough business risk analysis of whether a few thousand euros potentially outweigh years of imprisonment," said Verte.
Pre-trial proceedings in criminal matters are conducted by the MTA and directed by the Public Prosecutor's Office.
Editor: Helen Wright