Saturday May 27, 2017

Register today


High North

Getting their man. In the end

Greenland’s war on drug-smuggling is going high-tech and lowbrow
Low-tech, high-ick (Photo: Greenland Police)

Share this article

Facebook Google Twitter Mail

iAbout Press releases

As part of our continuing efforts to bring you as much information about our region as possible we offer readers a press release service that allows private firms, public agencies, non-governmental organisations and other groups to submit relevant press releases on our website.

All press releases in this section are published in their full length and have not been edited.

If you have a press release or other announcement you would like to have published, please send it to

We reserve the right to reject press releases we deem irrelevant or inappropriate. 

All material submitted to The Arctic Journal, including pictures and videos, will be assumed to be available for publication by The Arctic Journal and its related entities.

Stopping drug-smuggling in Greenland is notoriously difficult: the country’s six customs agents and two sniffer dogs must police all of the ports along its 44,000km of coastline as well as its six international airports.

Police estimate that about 200kg of cannabis, primarily in the form of hashish, is attempted smuggled into Greenland each year, mostly aboard ships, though often drugs are sent through the post or smuggled in by body packers, individuals who swallow narcotics in balloons or condoms. 

About a quarter of the drugs are stopped, according to police. Now police and customs authorities are employing a pair of new tools they hope will help prove effective in their efforts to detect drug-smugglers – and, quite probably, prevent those they nab from ever trying it again.

SEE RELATED: The high North

In December, customs agents stationed at Kangerlussuaq Airport, which receives three-quarters of the 80,000 aeroplane passengers arriving in Greenland each year, began using body scanners to detect whether individuals suspected of transporting drugs were acting as body packers.

The scanner is already proving its worth: customs agents report that after two months in use, as many as five people have been charged with drug-smuggling.

While police describe the two-million kroner device as “a good tool” for customs agents, they are relying on a decidedly lower tech, if higher ick, method for obtaining the drugs once the suspect is taken into custody.

SEE RELATED: Editor’s Briefing | Snow patrols

After being forced to take a laxative, the suspect is given a bucket and a pair of rubber gloves. Once nature takes its course, the smuggler “has the pleasure of picking out the bundles and cleaning them” for the police, Johan Westen, a police spokesperson in Nuuk, told, our sister website. (The image above shows recovered drug packets.)

A similar procedure is in place at Nuuk Airport, according to Westen. There, however, individuals suspected of having swallowed drug packets are taken to the local hospital for scanning.

Customs authorities declined to discuss whether scanners were needed Greenland’s other international airports. Perhaps the hope is that the threat, in the end, is deterrent enough.