Swedish Drug Dealer Loses Appeal for a Lighter Sentence

In Högsby, Sweden, a 27-year-old convicted drug trafficker has appealed his prison sentence. In early May, he was sentenced at the Kalmar District Court to one year in prison for five counts of drug trafficking. Earlier that year, law enforcement arrested the man after they had intercepted two “huge packages of drugs.” The convicted drug dealer argued that the drugs were for his personal use and not distribution. He wanted his sentence to reflect the intent.

The court, however, had no doubt that the man had planned to sell the drugs throughout the Högsby municipality and elsewhere. So they convicted him on all office drug trafficking charges. All five charges—now convictions—led to an unfair prison sentence, the man argued. In his appeal, he asked for a probationary sentence instead of a prison sentence. He provided reasons for the decision. Most of them were based on his claims that the drugs were for personal use only. He had no qualms about the length of the sentence, though. Especially if the court changed the prison sentence and allowed him to remain “free” in the outside world.

The package intercepted by police contained more than one pound of marijuana and more than 2,500 ecstasy pills. Investigators later discovered that the man had ordered the drugs from two darknet vendors and had used Bitcoin to complete both transactions.

In Sweden, the zero tolerance drug laws include the use of illegal substance. Unlike some states in the United States, being high or intoxicated on an illegal substance—even without possession—is a crime. In the states, intoxication will not result in jail time unless the intoxication involved a vehicle. And, as is the case in most states and countries, possession of even a personal amount is also a crime. But in Sweden, possession of a personal amount of drugs results in either fines or a maximum sentence of six months in jail.

The self-described drug user had admitted to ordering the drugs. He told the court he had planned to use the pills and marijuana. Presumably over a significant amount of time. And even though the Kalmar District Court found this argument laughable, the dealer/not-a-dealer took the same argument to the Court of Appeals. He explained that for personal use, the imprisonment sentence was too harsh of a punishment. (The sentences in Sweden, for drug crimes, fall into one of four categories that all carry minimum and maximum penalties.)

The laws treat the least serious crimes—usually possession or very minor distribution—with minor penalties. The next most serious crime carries a mandatory prison sentence of one year and a maximum of three years. According to the court, the Högsby man had committed five drug crimes fell into the second most serious category of drug offenses.

The Court of Appeals disagreed with the Kalmar District Court regarding the judgement. The court dropped the severity of two of the man’s crimes. However, that stood by the sentence issued by the District Court. The dealer headed back to prison for the remainder of his prison sentence. Although the appeal was more successful than the case originally, it ultimately changed nothing for the man.