"Mikael" was blackmailed by the gang. Archive Photo: Janerik Henriksson /Scanpix.

Police take on Södertälje gangs

The Swedish police and local authorities are stepping up the fight against organised crime in the town of Södertälje, just south of Stockholm. Södertälje has seen a series of shootings over the past year, and now the local community and the police have had enough.

The target of the operation is a gang called "The Södertälje Network", suspected by local police of being involved in a series of murders, shootings and blackmail attempts against local businessmen. Mikael, who wishes to be anonymous, and is actually called something else, is one of the gang's victims.

"You have to pay us money, because you have done wrong, you have to pay us cash", the gangs told him, he told Swedish Radio.

Mikael then told the gang he didn't have any money, and they beat him up. He was unlucky. He hadn't done anything illegal, but the gang thought they had him. They demanded almost 50 000 dollars in what they called "fines". He was roughed up several times, and both he and his family were threatened. He refused to pay however, and went to the police instead.

The police and local authorities have now started a crack-down on the gangs in the area. 12 members of the "Södertälje Network" have been arrested at different times connected to the murder of two brothers in a local club last summer.

The atmosphere in the area is calmer now, local residents tell local Swedish Radio, but many are still too scared to talk into a microphone, preferring to say what they think off-record. That will change though, says Mikael, one of the few willing to speak out.

"Lots of people feel like me", he says, "they are just waiting for other people to speak first. But they will. Everyone will talk. In the end."

Our journalism is based on credibility and impartiality. Swedish Radio is independent and not affiliated to any political, religious, financial, public or private interests.
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