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Historical Vignettes of the North

Dawson Daily News

Monday, April 9, 1923

'Liquor Smuggling Trade in Scandinavia Assumes Large Proportions' - 1923 headline

    COPENHAGEN. -- Rum, not specifically the sugar came product of Jamaica and Cuba, but rather any kind of alcoholic beverage stronger than claret and beer, is the basis of a smuggling trade in the Scandinavian countries and Finland that is assuming national proportions.
    Most of it comes from Germany. There it costs one crown a litre, and it finds a ready sale elsewhere at six crowns; hence there is a fine margin of profit for the rum-runner. Finland is a dry country, so there is no question of the market. Norway also is dry, but with certain limitations. Spain and Portugal compel her to accept a certain amount every year of wines like port and sherry, else they would not buy her fish, and Norway must sell her fish. Sweden has in place a system of rationing which permits limited consumption, while in Denmark there is no limit whatever, every man can drink as much as he can afford to buy. But here the duty is fantastically high, and cost is the only prohibitive agent.
    Occasionally the run runners lose a cargo, but this matters not so very much, for the profits easily take care of any such incident.
    The customs police on shore have been strengthened, and the authorities are watchful, but nevertheless the smugglers are having it nearly all their own way. The reason would seem to be that they are just a little bit smarter than their opponents, and succeed, in some cases, in keeping at least one jump ahead of them. For instance, there was the case of the German who double-crossed the Norwegians. The Norwegian customs people were seeking a good, speedy boat to keep the rum runners away, and they found a German in Lubeck who had just what they wanted, a seaworthy motor boat, 110 feet long, good accommodations, and with a guaranteed speed of 20 knots. The price was right, too, and in German marks to boot. So a sale was made, much to the satisfaction of the Norwegian customs authorities, who sought congratulations on their energy and business and acumen.

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