The fight against Europe’s criminal underworld has an unlikely new flag bearer.
Gangs have shaken countries across the continent, from traditional mafia hearts in Italy to clans operating in Germany.
Sweden is now fighting the violent gangs that carry bombs and shots at the Nordic nation.
The fight with Sweden’s gangland will be at the top of Magdalena Andersson’s compartment if she, as expected, takes office in the coming weeks as the country’s first female prime minister.
Andersson, who will replace Stefan Lofven as prime minister if she is confirmed by parliament, has promised to leave “no stone unturned” to eradicate the gangsters behind a major gun crime.
At least 35 people have been killed this year in gang violence – with 10 shots killed in August alone.
The authorities say that Sweden is the only country in Europe with a steadily rising share of gun deaths.
After securing the leadership of the ruling Social Democrats, Andersson said that “society must defend itself” against the gangs.
“We need a full-scale mobilization to regain control of gangs holding entire neighborhoods hostage,” she said.
But critics were not convinced that the government had a grip on the problem. Jan Ericson, an MP from the opposition Moderate Party, demanded more police and longer prison sentences.
“We are more than 10 million people in Sweden. The criminal gangs consist of a few thousand people, he says. “We are stronger than the gangs if we just decide that now must be enough.”
Swedish weapons epidemic
An explosion in Gothenburg this week triggered a new wave of discussion about gang crime – even though the latter turned out to be independent.
Rival gangs have used explosives and firearms to solve points, with explosions often occurring in cities such as Stockholm and Malmö. Police counted 107 explosions last year.
The new Prime Minister will “step out and face a Sweden where gang crime, bombings and murders with firearms are part of everyday life”, wrote the newspaper columnist Petter Birgersson.
Officials say eight out of ten weapons are killed in the criminal underworld. Ministers recently adopted a 34-point plan to address the gangs. This would make it possible for the police to more easily read encrypted texts and search people’s homes.
Minister of the Interior Mikael Damberg linked the flow of shootings to a major social deprivation and failed integration policy.
“A large part of the underclass in Sweden today lives in these segregated residential areas where shootings primarily take place,” he said.
“Society must crack down on gang criminals who restrict the freedom of so many others – but also create a more cohesive society where no one is left out.”
German clan chaos
Violence and money laundering by criminal gangs have kept the police busy in various parts of Germany, including the capital Berlin.
Police in the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia said they had seized more than 4 million euros ($ 4.6 million) in cash, property and cars in the past year.
Authorities said there were 112 Turkish and Arab gangs operating in the state, with more than 3,800 people suspected of various crimes. Many suspects had roots in Lebanon, officials say.
German gangs have been linked to spectacular crimes, including the theft of a giant gold coin and a jewel staple at a museum in the eastern city of Dresden two years ago.
In one case, the Al Zein clan is believed to have fraudulently demanded almost $ 500,000 in benefits and spent its funds on weapons and luxury items.
Mahmoud Al Zein, nicknamed the godfather of Berlin, was deported to Turkey in January. Two other people are said to have been arrested in a family villa this week.
Dutch kidnapping terror
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte is said to have been given extra security this week due to fears that drug gangs are planning to kidnap him.
Mr. Rutte rides his bike to work, but there are fears that he has been overshadowed by a gang called “Mocro Mafia”. It gets its name from Moroccan groups involved in drug trafficking.
Authorities would not be threatened with Rutte but have promised a purge of organized crime since an investigative reporter was shot dead in July.
The Netherlands is facing significant drug trafficking problems. The port of Rotterdam is a major hub for cocaine smuggling, while Amsterdam was accused in an official report of giving free rein to “a motley crew of drug offenders, a ring of hustlers and parasites”.
Belgian drug hub
The Belgian port of Antwerp has become increasingly important for drug trafficking and competes with human trafficking in southern Europe, such as Portugal and Spain.
Europol says that consignments of cocaine from Brazil and Colombia often arrive directly in Belgium. At least 65 tonnes of the drug were seized in Antwerp in 2020.
Belgian authorities say criminal gangs with Moroccan and Albanian backgrounds are involved in transporting cocaine from the port.
Threats from the underground have been reported to Bart De Wever, the mayor of Antwerp and a Flemish nationalist politician, who spoke out against the drug gang.
Spanish police attacks
Spanish authorities claimed victory this week after a drug bust in which 61 people were arrested and more than 4,000 kilos of cocaine and a variety of weapons were seized.
Gangsters from Serbia, Croatia and Montenegro used bases in Spain to help them smuggle cocaine between South America and the Spanish coast.
The cartel had branches all over Europe and sold luxury cars to raise money. Two alleged seniors were held in March while they are said to be preparing for the arrival of a broadcast.
Spain previously announced that 280 criminal groups had been identified and dismantled in 2019, with raids taking over more than 2,000 vehicles, 173 boats and four aircraft.
Italian mafia scene
Rome’s Casamonica clan was last week officially classified as a mafia organization, with five of its top members imprisoned for up to 30 years each.
Family members have boasted in wiretapped conversations about competing with the famous mafia gangs in southern Italy, such as’ Ndrangheta.
The court found Casamonica mobsters guilty of drug trafficking and extortion. They are believed to have links to Colombian drug gangs.
Rome Mayor Virginia Raggi promised last month that “the fight will continue” against the family, which has its roots in Roma and Sinti society.
Mobsters elsewhere in Italy are believed to launder money through tourist companies, siphoning billions from one of the country’s flagship industries. More than 4,000 companies risked infiltration, according to a report.
Updated: October 4, 2021, 7:06 p.m.