A report from the Swedish Crime Prevention Council (Brå) says that fatal shootings have become a status symbol for gang members but have also led to a climate of fear among criminals.
The insights into Swedish criminal culture come from a series of interviews done by Brå with 21 individuals said to be involved with both the gang scene as well as incidents involving firearms, Swedish broadcaster SVT reports.
The individuals told the agency that the main factor behind the violence was drugs and that in some of Sweden’s troubled suburbs, often referred to as no-go areas, the drug trade was an everyday factor of life with many going into selling drugs. Erik Nilsson, an investigator at Brå, said that the drug trade was seen “to represent money and social status.”
With illegal drugs often comes violence and the Swedish gang scene is no exception, seeing a record 45 fatal shootings in 2018.
“Today, there is a need for greater violence to build their reputation. More violence is needed to achieve a certain effect,” Nilsson said, with interviewees saying that social status motivated both drug dealing and fatal shootings.
Stockholm, Sweden: Thirty Fatal Shootings, But Just Eight Convictions https://t.co/KYIhU9a3NB
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) December 22, 2018
Gang members seeing social status coming from fatal shootings has also led to members always being armed in case another gang attempts to kill them and has created a climate of fear, according to investigator Elin Jönsson.
“It is believed that weapons are needed for a shooting to take place at any time, therefore one has to be prepared. Access to weapons is presented as a must,” Jönsson said.
Swedish criminals have been shown to have access to an array of weapons from fully automatic rifles, shotguns, and hand grenades with the country being one of the largest markets for Balkan weapons, according to Bosnian prosecutor Goran Glamocanin.
Swedish authorities have managed to seize weapons in raids, including a raid last month in Gothenburg that uncovered hand grenades, rifles, and explosives.
Sweden also attempted to get hand grenades off the streets by instituting an amnesty for those turning in the explosive devices. According to police, the programme has been lacklustre with no hand grenades turned in as Swedes turned in dynamite and other explosives used by farmers and others.