A man has been sentenced for attempting to smuggle 88 pounds of speed into Norway by passing it off as a Covid-19 vaccine delivery, VICE has reported.
According to Norwegian local news, customs stopped the 50-year-old Polish man, whose identity remains anonymous, upon his arrival to to the Norway. He arrived via ferry from Denmark, traveling with an especially well decorated van.
The van in question donned multiple magnetic stickers with the BioNTech logo, also known as one of two companies behind the development of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. The man even placed a folder sporting a BioNTech logo in the dashboard of the vehicle, to further disguise himself and his vehicle.
A Polish man covered his van in magnetic stickers with the BioNTech logo to evade authorities. https://t.co/JKIV8G3grr
Upon searching the car, however, authorities uncovered 88 pounds of amphetamine — informally known as “speed” — hidden in a discrete compartment of the automobile’s roof. The 88 pounds accounts for nearly 10 percent of Norway’s annual seizures of speed, a state prosecutor was quoted as saying in Norwegian press.
The court’s verdict, which was obtained by Vice, says that the man was working as a truck driver in Germany when he was offered €20,000 euros (approximately $23,500 dollars) in exchange for smuggling the drugs.
“He came into contact with people who wanted him to smuggle drugs to Norway,” the verdict says, per VICE. “At first he refused, but then the pandemic came and there were fewer assignments and the wages were low. He rented a van in Germany and drove to Amsterdam, where he was handed the drugs.”
A logo of BioNTech is pictured at the headquarter of biopharmaceutical company BioNTech, one of the laboratories in the race to develop a coronavirus vaccine, in Mainz, western Germany.AFP via Getty Images
“He was afraid of these people and what they could do to his family. They told him they knew where his family in Germany lives,” it continues.
Sverre Sjøvold, the man’s lawyer said that his client believed he had been carrying hash as opposed to speed, and was therefore shocked by the sentencing.
“He was certain that he was smuggling hashish, and had in mind a sentence of three to four years in prison,” Sjøvold explained. “When he heard 10 years and six months, it was clear he was shocked.”
Sjøvold also told Vice in an email that they were “aware that he was wrongly convicted” and plan to appeal the sentencing.
However the Norwegian court asserts Sjøvold’s client was aware of what he was doing, as they found fingerprints and DNA evidence on the bags of amphetamine. The court also doubts the validity of his claim that the bags of speed fell from the roof of the car and hit his head during the drive.
“The court is certain that he either knew or thought it more than 50 percent likely that he was smuggling amphetamine,” they wrote.