Large increase in underage smugglers


Published 30 March 2023 at 17.49

Domestic. The number of cases where children and young people under the age of 18 are suspected of smuggling has doubled in three years.

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– It is a worrying development and what we are seeing in our investigations is probably the tip of an iceberg. We really want to urge parents to pay attention to what their children are doing online, says Lina Andersson, deputy head of the Swedish Customs Service's criminal department.

In 2020, the Swedish Customs Service launched a total of 89 investigations against minors suspected of smuggling offences. In 2021, the number of new investigations had increased to 149 and the increase continued in 2022 when 175 investigations were initiated. In the statistics, it is possible to break out cases involving suspected children under the age of 15, and there is a significant increase in that age category. In 2020, four investigations concerned children under the age of 15. In 2022, the number of investigations had increased to 29.

– The statistics indicate that smuggling is creeping down in age. We see several examples where the suspects are only 12–13 years old. We want to flag this development to make the adult world aware of what is going on, says Lina Andersson.

In 85 percent of the cases, the smuggling has taken place via mail and parcels. The most common item to be smuggled is e-cigarettes, but narcotics, alcohol, explosives and dangerous items such as knives are also common.

– Far from everything that can be bought online is legal. In addition to putting yourself and others at risk, you run the risk of being caught for smuggling. There are a number of examples of minors who have been convicted of smuggling in recent years. In addition, you can end up in the crime register, which can put an end to certain educations, jobs and driving licenses for several years to come, says Lina Andersson.

Even if the suspected crimes concern children and young people under the age of 15, the crimes are investigated. But since you are then not a criminal authority, it is instead social authorities who take over.