Italian police say they have dismantled a criminal gang called ‘Arab Zone 90133’ that committed a range of violent attacks between Jan. 7 and June 15 in the historic center of Palermo.
Police took a total of 11 people, six adults and five minors, under preventative custody. Five adults ended up in prison and one under house arrest. For the minors, precautionary measures were ordered against two of them, and three were placed in community juvenile centers.
The gang carried out violent attacks with broken glass bottles and sticks, mainly on weekends in Palermo’s historic center where young people usually gather. The charges against the members include aggravated injury, assault, threats, resisting an off-duty police officer, and aggravated robbery, according to news outlet QDS.it.
The gang was known for posting its deeds on social media, including on TikTok, YouTube, and Instagram, under a profile called “arabzone90133.” The members boasted that their gang was made up of Maghrebi North Africans, and made claims about what territory they controlled in the city. The Instagram profile has 1,385 followers, mostly minors.
The city’s police commissioner also highlighted their North African origin, saying, “The group, or rather the herd, of very young people, along with some adults, was mainly of Maghreb origin and second-generation immigrants, some of whom were born in Palermo. They praised criminal actions such as robberies, thefts, and assaults for no reason, all perpetrated in the center around Via Maqueda, and all perpetrated in packs to the detriment of other young people, including disabled people, from the beginning of the year until a few weeks ago, when the circle of State Police investigators began to gather around them,” says Palermo police commissioner Leopoldo Laricchia.
“They violently claimed to ‘control the territory.’ Their social profile has more than 1,400 followers. Subculture probably fueled by films and series that exalt criminal deeds, social anger, marginalization, and drug use, most likely this is the mix that is making the youngest and most marginalized sections of our metropolis slide into crime,” he added.
Last month, over 2,000 migrants descended on lakeside towns in the Lake Garda region, where large-scale assaults and robberies occurred against residents and tourists alike. The mayor of one of the towns described the riots as a “day of war” after images of the incident went viral on social media. On the regional train in one of the towns, six young teen girls were sexually assaulted by a group of 30 migrants.