onsdag, maj 20

Hells Angels and immigrant gangs clash; police and citizens struggle to find solutions

An estimated 50 criminal gangs, including the Bandidos and Hells Angels, as well as home-grown outfits with colorful names like Wolfpack Brotherhood and Werewolf Legion, compete for control of Sweden's narcotics, prostitution, and extortion rackets. According to official figures, extortion rackets have more than doubled over the past six years and grew by 50 percent in 2008.

Erik Lannerbäck, a former Bandidos member and youth counselor who now campaigns for gang prevention, says the recession may swell the ranks of Scandinavia's criminal gangs and lead to more turf wars. "With fewer job opportunities and the temptation of easy money," he says, "a lot of young guys will get drawn in."

Lasse Wierup, a crime reporter at Sweden's Dagens Nyheter newspaper, says that Swedish biker gangs have lost ground in recent years, often to competition from "immigrant gangs" from suburban projects.

"Hells Angels and Bandidos found it easy to get established in Sweden and Denmark because they had no organized enemies and could just walk in and take over," he says. "The biker gangs were founded on a myth that they were extremely dangerous and could get you wherever you are. That works on ordinary people – but not on the new generation of armed criminal gangs."


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