Swedish police chief warns of ‘unprecedented’ wave of gang killings

Gang wars are causing an "unprecedented" wave of violence in Sweden, said national police chief Anders Thornberg at a press conference held after a spate of fatal shootings in the past couple of weeks.

Swedish police chief warns of 'unprecedented' wave of gang killings
Swedish police chief Anders Thornberg. Photo: Christine Olsson/TT

In recent years, Sweden has seen gangs fighting over arms and drug trafficking, involving firearms and explosive devices.

“There have recently been murders and explosions on an unprecedented scale,” police chief Anders Thornberg told a press conference.

“Several boys aged between 13 and 15 have been killed, the mother of a criminal was executed at home, and a young man in Uppsala was shot dead on his way to work”, he added.

The police chief emphasised that the orders often came from high-level gang criminals based abroad, without mentioning any nationalities.

There have been several shootings in Sweden this week: four in the university city of Uppsala – two of them fatal – and two in Stockholm, where a 13-year-old teenager lost his life.

Last year, 90 explosions and 101 attempted explosive attacks were recorded, according to data from the Swedish police.

So far this year over 100 explosions have already been recorded.

The conflicts between these criminal gangs are costing innocent lives, said Thornberg.

“Citizens are afraid, insecurity is increasing. And this at a time when we have raised our terrorist alert level in the country.”

Several gang crimes have been foiled in recent days, he added, stressing the importance of preventive work.

“Several people have been arrested and weapons confiscated in Uppsala alone, where the situation is very serious,” added Ulf Johansson, a police officer in the Uppsala region, which is 70 kilometres north of Stockholm.

In 2022, there were 391 shootings in Sweden, 62 of which were fatal, compared to 45 people killed by gunfire the previous year.

Member comments

  1. This is terrible, so many innocent lives lost or affected.

    Something perplexing are the reasons – the fighting is over arms and drugs?
    Sweden is a small country. From an economic perspective, why would gangs operate in such a tiny market?
    Surely, for organized crime bosses, there are other places in the world that would be more lucrative with fewer legal impediments?

    Something seems off – maybe some good, old investigative journalism might provide clearer answers?

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Illegal Swedish strawberry sales raise billions of kronor for organised crime

Swedish police have carried out raids on strawberry vendors suspected of being linked to gang crime.

Illegal Swedish strawberry sales raise billions of kronor for organised crime

Police told Dagens Nyheter that the raids were connected to one of Sweden’s most wanted gang leaders, Ismail Abdo, nicknamed Jordgubben (“The Strawberry”).

In a statement police said they had “hit a central violent actor by targeting individuals around this person and their business structures”.

Raids were carried out in Bergslagen, as well as the Mitt and Stockholm police regions.

It’s suspected that these sellers had been marketing Belgian strawberries as Swedish and using the revenue to fund serious organised crime. Police also found children under the legal working age and migrants without legal residency permits working at the stalls.

Police believe that illegal strawberry sales turn over billions of kronor every year.

“We’ve carried out multiple actions together with other authorities,” Per Lundbäck, from the Bergslagen policing region, told Swedish news agency TT. “By cutting off the finances off this type of organised crime, we can weaken gangs’ financing and their ability to carry out crimes.”

To avoid buying strawberries linked to crime, Lundbäck recommends paying attention to the company you buy your strawberries from.

“The first thing you can do is look at the number the (mobile phone payment app) Swish payment goes to, to make sure it’s a company number starting with 123, and not a private number,” he said.

Most companies will have their Swish number displayed somewhere on the stand, so you should be able to check this even if you don’t have the app and are paying with card, for example.

He also added that you can pay attention to the age of the person selling the strawberries, describing very young sellers as a “red flag”.