The Story of Jungle Svonni, Another Casualty of the Drug War

By Nadia Svonni on Saturday, 08 March 2014, hits: 7215

Reposted from Support Jungle Svonni at the request of Nadia Svonni.

The Struggle 

Jungle Svonni has been wrongly accused of a crime. He has been acquitted twice. But still the threats from the Swedish State continue. He is currently awaiting a third trial. This is a story about the struggle for recognition...And for the right of a people to express their own culture as they see fit; to tell their own story.

We all stand at an historical juncture in the progress of mankind. This is a story about the use of power and the struggle for alternative worldviews to flourish and grow.


The Story

“My first memory in life was that I knew I would be a Shaman. I was four years old and I’d never even heard the word.”

And so it was to be. But Jungle Svonni found the road harder than he had ever imagined.

Shamanism and traditional medicine, like so much of the Sami culture, had been wiped out by centuries of persecution from the Scandinavian and Russian States. Even possession of a drum carried a death sentence.

When it comes to defending indigenous culture and fighting to strengthen people’s capacity to express themselves as they see fit, Jungle Svonni does not give up easily. After living in northern Scandinavia (Sapmi) and northern Greenland, working as a guide and hunter, Jungle’s determination to become a Shaman led him to the last place on Earth a son of the Arctic ever considered - the Peruvian Amazon.

But why head to the Amazon? In today’s increasingly homogeneous world, indigenous peoples and the vast knowledge they carry are becoming a rare commodity. Western culture dominates the globe and alternative worldviews and ancient cultures have suffered tremendously as a result. There are few places left where the thread into the deep past has not been torn; few places that are touchstones for humanity. The Amazon is one of those places.

After traversing the Amazon, Jungle eventually found the place and the teacher he was looking for. Finding his teacher was only the beginning of an incredible and difficult process to re-learn his own culture. Jungle Svonni spent almost ten years apprenticed to a Shaman of the Witoto people. He became the first person ever to actually succeed in completing the arduous and extreme lessons of his teacher, which earned him the right to work as a shaman in the Amazon Basin, an astounding achievement for a man born of the ice.

“Shamanism is evolution . It’s about the human desire to evolve, to be better, reach further and become more perfect. I find it hard to describe the difference between the ethos of shamanism and where we are today. When we rise above our selfish interests, then we can put an end to all things such as suffering, crime, conflict, and environmental problems. It is through internal growth that external change can happen, and shamanism is about development and growth.”

In the Amazon, several psychoactive medicinal plants - such as San Pedro and ayahuasca are essential shamanic tools. In Africa, throughout Gabon, the Congo and Cameroon, Iboga is also used.

“These sacred plants are tools that can be used for incredible variety of remedies. I have worked with many different problems, including a great many people with drug dependency.”

Eventually, Jungle Svonni returned to Sweden and to his people, the Sami. He brought with him the lost knowledge and he intended to help resurrect so much of what had been erased. As a shaman, Jungle serves an integral role in Sami culture. And he has many tools, including medicinal plants, which are an extremely important component.

Then at 21:30 on the 28th of September, 2013, customs officials raided Jungle Svonni’s home. He was arrested and detained for 18 days on an aggravated narcotics charge. History was repeating itself as echoes of the 16th century reverberated through the present day.

“The same thing was happening to me as happened to my ancestors when forces rushed in to seize drums. They confiscated the tools that I use to heal people and they detained me.”

But has Jungle Svonni actually broken any Swedish laws?

No he has not!


The Raid

Jungle Svonni had a packet of powdered San Pedro sent to him from Peru, which was stopped by German Customs who sent a report the Swedish Customs Authority. San Pedro is a variety of cactus and powdered San Pedro is LEGAL is Sweden.

It appears that the Swedish Authorities didn't translate the report, but did understand the word “mescaline.” The Swedish Authorities had 6 months to independently analyze the contents of the package. It appears they failed to do so. Six months later, customs officials of the Swedish Customs Authority raided the house of Jungle Svonni’s mother. Jungle Svonni was taken into custody without explanation.

At approximately 03:00 the following morning, Jungle Svonni was taken to the interrogation room and charged with the intent to smuggle 1 kilo of synthetic mescaline. Jungles Svonni’s lawyer informed Jungle that he would not be able to get him released from captivity. All that was possible at that time was to request a laboratory analysis of the powdered San Pedro.

This revealed the fact that the Swedish Customs Authority had the powdered San Pedro in their possession for six months, yet failed to perform any analysis on the substance. However, this did not stop them from arresting Jungle Svonni and charging him with smuggling mescaline, without any evidence of the existence of mescaline whatsoever. Nor did it stop them from informing the press that they had intercepted a branch of some international mafia.

During Jungle Svonni’s incarceration, the court prosecutor obtained an analysis of the San Pedro. The analysis revealed that the San Pedro contained NO synthetic mescaline. The court was then obligated to release Jungle Svonni immediately. For unknown reasons the court prosecutor kept this information from the court, extending Jungle’s time in custody far beyond the legal requirement. Finally on the 15th October 2013, Jungle Svonni was released from custody and appealed the charges. As a result of the appeal, the Swedish court acquitted Jungle Svonni of any crime, judging him to be “Not Guilty.”

On the 24th of October, the court prosecutor re-opened the case on the grounds that the San Pedro was dried and powdered and was therefore an illegal preparation. From that date onwards Jungle Svonni had to report to the police 3 times a week. Jungle appealed for a second time to the Swedish Court, attesting his innocence. On the 13th of December, 2013, the Court of Sweden exonerated Jungle Svonni, for a second time, of any crime and again found him “Not Guilty.” For unknown reasons the court prosecutor has decided to re-open the case one more time. Jungle Svonni is once again facing charges.

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+2 # Entheogenerator 2014-03-09 20:52
This is abhorrent. I feel so sorry for this innocent man, being treated like Pablo Escobar for importing a completely legal plant medicine... The current state of the "developed" world's attitude in regards to psychoactive substances is so backwards, it makes me very sad to think that this is what some people would consider "progress"... :cry:
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0 # Morris 2014-03-14 15:11
It's a very sad state that people are still being prosecuted for things that shouldn't be illegal. However, I'm curious about a couple of statements in the article:

"powdered San Pedro is LEGAL is Sweden"
Is this actually true? I am not familiar with the Swedish legal system, but in the US the laws are written very broadly so that police/prosecut ors can use them more or less as they wish. The argument of an "illegal preparation" near the end of the article makes it sound like Swedish laws are constructed similarly.

"The analysis revealed that the San Pedro contained NO synthetic mescaline."
I am perplexed by this statement. If it was San Pedro powder, it would obviously contain mescaline. Did they analyze for trace amounts of reaction sideproducts and impurities that would occur through normal synthetic routes?
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