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Gothenburg

Business owners in Sweden blackmailed by gangs

Many business owners in Sweden are blackmailed by gangs and threatened with death. The police cannot provide sufficient protection for such people because they can hardly keep up with their work, said an officer in Gothenburg.

Published: July 6, 2021, 9:35 am

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    Immigrant entrepreneurs in Sweden have lost their companies as well as their families or have had to move abroad for fear of being killed but the police do not have the capacity to take action against all the gangs and gang members in the country. This was revealed by a report by the Swedish broadcaster SVT. The reason for the development is criminal gangs who systematically blackmail immigrant businesses in Sweden. Now the Gothenburg police are sounding the alarm: The problem is so big that not even the police can protect the victims.

    “Either you pay, or you defend yourself and your life is completely ruined,” explained the policeman Ulf Boström. Integration police officer Boström has worked in northeast Gothenburg for 16 years. His phone rings all the time with worried mothers of gang members, imams and immigrants asking for help to translate an official document.

    The police are simply overwhelmed, according to Boström. In his everyday life he meets many people who live under constant death threats. Those who pay gangs and family-based criminal networks for blackmail attempts, and those who refused.

    He said that the police could no longer protect those who ask for help, including those who demand sheltered housing. “It is only temporary and few who are protected in that way live a full life. Because we have for so long allowed this business to spread throughout Sweden, they have gangs in all the major cities. They have eyes and ears everywhere.”

    The criminals know that people with a foreign background are easier to blackmail, said Boström. And: “If you don’t have a large family to protect you, you have absolutely no chance.” He has long tried to make others understand that organized crime is much more than the high-profile shootings.

    Manne Gerell, a criminologist researching immigrant crime and gang violence, said however that this type of blackmail was difficult to research because it is never reported. “Most often, these stories appear as anecdotes that get some attention and then they disappear.”

    Almost everyone involved that SVT spoke to has had to move from their homes, many have family who have left them because they are afraid of being by their side. Some of them believe that a mafia has emerged in Sweden that is allowed to operate freely. But Gerell could not confirm that: “We actually do not know if that is the case. Even if the problem is not completely hidden, it is not possible to say how big it is.”

    There are no statistics in Sweden on how many people suffer from organized extortion or how many live with constant death threats. Among other things, it is because victims rarely file a police report. These allegations have also highlighted the complete lack of integration.

    The policeman’s revelations about alleged widespread extortion, come in the wake of questions about the recent execution of 33-year-old police officer Andreas Danman in Biskopsgården.

    Danman was shot dead by the 17-year-old Somali Sakariye Ali Ahmed who has been remanded in custody for the murder. Extensive efforts led to the previously convicted gang criminal Sakariye Ali Ahmed being arrested last Friday. The course of events which led to the murder is unclear due to the police’s contradictory information.

    According to the initial statements, the policeman was shot while he was talking to some residents in the area and it was unclear whether he was in uniform. Eventually it became known – thanks to social media – that a uniformed police officer had been murdered in cold blood. Also, according to both Expressen’s and Nya Tider’s police sources, Andreas Danman may have walked into a trap set for him, which would raise the police murder to another level of political sensitivity.

    Later statements by authorities allege that the policeman was instead shot while driving or shot “by mistake”, but these were contradicted by police sources who wished to remain anonymous.

    The arrested Somali Sakariye Ali Ahmed was previously convicted of attempted murder because he stabbed a man in the neck with a knife on a tram in a completely unprovoked attack. He is a member of one of the criminal networks in Biskopsgården. According to police sources, the police have been cracking down hard on the network to which the suspect belonged.

    There have also been reports that criminals in Biskopsgården celebrated the execution of Danman with fireworks.

    A Swedish man has meanwhile been arrested for sharing the video of Danman’s murder on his website and his phone and computer have been confiscated, but Swedish authorities have not stated exactly which crime he is suspected of. This has raised further questions about what the police want to hide, because video’s of George Floyd arrest who died during a police intervention, were shown again and again.

    Until the relatives of Danman themselves confirm that they do not want to see the visuals spread on social media, one has to take the police’s statements with a pinch of salt.

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