Swedish gangs growing by 1,000 new recruits a year, and it’s only going to get worse, warns police chief

By Thomas Brooke
4 Min Read

Over 1,000 people are initiated into criminal gangs across Sweden every year, and the rate of recruitment shows no sign of slowing, warned National Police Chief Anders Thornberg on Tuesday.

Speaking to the Aftonbladet newspaper, the Swedish police chief revealed that over 30,000 people are now estimated to be involved in gang violence, and three new recruits are added every day.

“The (level of) violence in the capital is high, and the number of people involved is frightening,” Thornberg said in reference to Stockholm, where there are currently 10 different gangs engaged in turf wars. “Every day, three new people join the criminal environment, often children and young people,” he added.

The head of Sweden’s national police lamented the lack of police resources available to combat the rise in gang warfare and claimed the authorities are currently fighting a losing battle.

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“The police do not have time to investigate the crimes; there is a lack of staff and especially staff with sufficient experience. The situation also means that there is no time to investigate other crimes,” he told the newspaper.

“As long as three new (recruits) are added every day, and we do not succeed in stopping recruitment to the networks, it will continue,” he warned.

Swedish authorities are doing what they can to address the issue, but the dramatic rise in gang activity over recent years has led to an increase in what police describe as “exclusion zones” or “parallel societies,” otherwise known as lawless no-go zones where employment is low and crime is rife.

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Since Christmas last year, police in Stockholm alone have seized 100 pistols, 31 automatic rifles, 66 detonators, 10 hand grenades, and 79 kilograms of dynamite, according to Hampus Nygårds, the deputy manager of the National Operations Department (NOA).

Thornberg called for greater recruitment of police officers and extra funding to help break the trend, as well as greater cooperation between local forces across the country.

Authorities have a tough job on their hands, however, with last year seeing a record number of shooting murders. A total of 388 shootings were reported across the country, resulting in 61 deaths. A further 90 attacks with explosives were also recorded.

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The rate of murder by firearm is two and a half times the European average.

Despite a concerted effort by authorities not to admit it, Sweden’s gangland culture has spiraled as a result of mass immigration, with government data showing that nearly 5,000 gang members in Sweden are either first- or second-generation immigrants.

Former Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson lamented the cultural divide now prevalent in the country before losing power last fall, telling reporters: “We now have parallel societies in Sweden. We live in the same country but in completely different realities.”

Her successor, Ulf Kristersson of the Moderate Party, warned in January the government would need to take radical action to address the problem, something it has so far failed to do.

Following a spate of high-profile gang conflicts resulting in numerous fatalities at the turn of the year, Kristersson labeled gang members “the domestic terrorists of our times” and warned the current situation is “uncontrollable.”

“This crime will not end on its own. These people must be locked up, those who are not Swedish citizens must be expelled from the country,” he added.

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