Gothenburg by night: In Sweden’s second largest city, criminal gangs are fighting for supremacy.
Rival criminals have set up roadblocks in Gothenburg with masked control personnel for their precincts. Many citizens are afraid. The police say they have the situation under control.
Stockholm – In Gothenburg the police are currently on high alert. The citizens of the second largest Swedish city have been kept in suspense for weeks by the conflict between two rival criminal gangs. The first big argument between the two groups broke out at a gas station on August 12th. The men started beating and shooting at each other, more shootings followed, and people set fire to each other’s cars.
At the height of the fighting, the criminals erected roadblocks in their precincts with masked and armed “inspectors” equipped with bulletproof vests, who, according to the Swedish media, stopped and searched cars. Municipal nurses and social workers were sometimes stopped at three of these "border crossings".
In some areas of Gothenburg it was eerily empty at times. Many citizens avoided taking to the streets after the criminals announced a downright curfew. Several large medical practices in the northeast of the city stopped home visits because of the gang conflict in order to protect their employees, writes the newspaper "Goteborgs-Posten".
Last week the gangs met in the city center in a hotel by the busy main train station to negotiate a possible peace agreement. Only a large-scale operation of the police could break up the spectacle with countless criminals. “One violent crime gives birth to the next. It is important to break this trend early, ”said Erik Nord, Police Chief for Greater Gothenburg. The police have the situation under control, he emphasized. "We know what is going on and what measures we have to take, but there are no guarantees in this system," the police chief tried to reassure the population. Apparently there are parallel societies in Gothenburg with their own laws.
Mafia expert Johanna Backstrom Lerneby mentions a so-called Ali Khan clan that dominates Gothenburg. Its leader is a 63-year-old Iman, who originally comes from Lebanon. The family members are often already convicted several times for crimes including murder. The gang also has branches in Germany, such as Berlin, claims Backstrom Lerneby. In addition, the conflict is about another gang called the Backabande. But there are signs that the gangs would soon come to an agreement, said the mafia expert.
In the capital Stockholm, too, there have been repeated exchanges of firearms between rival gangs in recent times. The drug market in particular is highly competitive there. In order to counteract gang crime more, there is currently a debate in Sweden as to whether convicted persons who belong to a gang should receive twice as high sentences as individual perpetrators. This is already the case in neighboring Denmark. The extent to which the previously applicable penalty discount for people under the age of 21 should be abolished is also being discussed. For this reason, the gangs often use very young members for murders and other crimes with long prison terms.