Hello Europe Podcast Podcast

Sweden gangs and organized crime

Sweden, the country of Ikea and Spotify, the country of Greta Thunberg in love with the environment, the country of consensus, this Nordic territory where life is peaceful ... Beyond this cliché exists also another Sweden, less known, that of gangs and organized crime. A Sweden where you do not hesitate to shoot someone in the street, in daylight. A few days ago, at the end of August, a news item moved the whole country ... Illuminations.

from our correspondent in Stockholm,

Malmö, the big city in southern Sweden, faces Copenhagen on a Monday morning in a street in the city center. We are not very far from a beach, a busy corner, when hooded people approach a young woman in her thirties who walks her baby. They come near and execute it.

It has been a long time since we had seen such violence in Sweden ... The country was really shocked. Even local gang members reacted by saying that a limit had been crossed, and that in the Middle, normally, women and children were not attacked.

According to the police, the real target of the attack would have been the companion of the young woman who was also present. A man already sentenced to several years in prison.

The figures of crime go in the same direction, that of climbing ...

The overall homicide rate in Sweden is one of the lowest in the world, a fact: it is around 1 per 100,000 inhabitants. But when we zoom in on organized crime, this is a completely different landscape. There were more than 300 shootings in Sweden in 2018, which left 45 dead and 135 wounded. The first figures of 2019 show that we are on the same trend and that this record could be beaten. Stockholm, for example, recorded as many deaths in the first six months of the year as in the whole of 2018.

To blacken the picture a little, we could add two Swedish specificities: the massive use of hand grenades, and explosives. On June 7, for example, a bomb weighing between 15 and 20 kilograms ravaged the facades of two residential buildings in Linköping, a two-hour drive from Stockholm. According to the police, it is a miracle if there were no deaths.

At the origin of this violence ...

These are organized gangs that fight for drug trafficking and arms trafficking. Some of these gangs are purely Swedish, others are related to the different waves of migration that have arrived in Sweden: There are Iraqi, Syrian and Albanian gangs, but also others, much older, which date from the dismantling of the former Yugoslavia.

This in any case provokes an intense debate in Sweden, between the left that wants even more prevention, and a right-wing party that makes a direct link between migrants and crime in the country. Moreover the controversy resumed again after the shooting of another young woman, on August 28, north of Stockholm.

Very rarely, the King of Sweden, on this occasion, expressed himself to declare that he was particularly shocked by these two murders and that with his family he shared " the anxieties " of his fellow citizens.