Barcelona sentences Sweden's most notorious criminal

Court sentences him to two and a half years in prison for investing drug money in Catalan properties

3 min
The trial was held a month ago at the Audiencia de Barcelona.

BarcelonaThe name Jonas Falk probably goes unnoticed in Catalonia but he is well known in Sweden, where he is said to be the country's most famous criminal. Falk, who has been nicknamed 'the Swedish Pablo Escobar', was acquitted by the Swedish courts but has been found guilty in Barcelona: he has been sentenced to two and a half years in prison for laundering millions of euros that came from drug trafficking, despite the fact that the prosecution was seeking 20 years in prison. He was handed the longest sentence in the month-long trial against him and eleven other defendants, four of whom were acquitted. He "created a structure of natural and legal persons at the international level" to make investments, at least in Spain, to hide the money obtained from drug trafficking, says the ruling, which ARA has had access to.

The court lists the investments, valued at over €3m: a house in Sitges, a nightclub in Barcelona - which was called Pacha and changed its name to Oshum - and a restaurant in Palma. Falk was not registered as the owner and acted through his aunt, Harriette Broman, also sentenced to over two years in prison. According to the court, the fact that the woman had been "a singer with public relevance" in her youth, who could have amassed a certain wealth, favoured Falk's plans to use her as a front: she was listed as the owner of the business. The sentence recalls that Falk was acquitted in Sweden for drug trafficking, mainly cocaine, but considers that the money he earned was used to buy the aforementioned properties.

Falk, now 48, had his father's surname - Oredsson - until 2007 when he changed it to his mother's. His full name is Jonas Sture Falk. His early criminal history links him to bank robberies and later to drug trafficking. In 2010 he was arrested in the Caribbean when he was aboard a sailboat with almost a ton and a half of cocaine, in an operation known as Operation 'Playa'. From Colombia, he was taken to Sweden, where he was sentenced to 18 years in prison for leading a drug trafficking network between South America and Europe. But Falk appealed to a Swedish court, which in 2014 acquitted him. He was then extradited to Spain, where he was wanted for suspicious investments worth €5.5m.

The court's ruling, 176 pages long, devotes a large part to responding to the defences and argues why, despite the Swedish acquittal, the accused are standing trial. The court considers that one thing is the crime against public health - addressed in Sweden - and another is that of money laundering, for which the case had not been heard.

Sentence reduced due to delay

But the Barcelona court has lowered the sentence requested by the prosecution accepting a mitigating circumstance of undue delay as Falk stood trial seven years after being extradited: the process had to be repeated when it was about to be judged due to lack of guarantees. The judges have also decided to sentence Falk only for the crime of money laundering and exclude tax evasion and crimes against public finances, which the prosecution also sought, as it found they were coincident. That is why the penalty has been reduced to two and a half years in prison, of which Falk has already partly served because he has spent a year in custody. The Court has also imposed a €5m fine, whose non-payment implies a six-month sentence, in addition to confiscation of the house in Sitges and money.

The sentence can be appealed and Falk is still facing another case as in 2019 he was arrested in Sitges in another operation against drug trafficking called 'Beautiful'.