Gang leaders in Sweden often escape punishment

organized crime

Published 2 May 2024
- By Editorial Staff
Critics say it is unreasonable to allow repeat offenders to avoid consequences for most of the crimes they commit.

An investigation shows that at least 30 criminal gang leaders in Sweden have escaped punishment for crimes they have been proven to have committed – such as drug and weapons offenses.

Often, gang leaders only have to serve the sentence for the most serious crimes they are convicted of – and avoid all consequences for crimes of lesser severity.

Uppdrag Granskning’s documentary series “Skyttarna” interviewed several convicted gang criminals. Although they had been sentenced to several years in prison for serious crimes, they had apparently committed a long list of “lesser” crimes for which they had escaped punishment.

The reason for this is so-called non-prosecution decisions – that is, the prosecutor decides not to prosecute a person even though it has been established that the suspect is guilty. Instead, they focus only on the more serious crimes.

– You could say that this is a judgment without a trial. In other words, an indictment. A conviction that is registered in the criminal record but does not lead to any additional punishment, says Lennart Guné, chief prosecutor at the Swedish Prosecution Authority Development Center (Åklagarmyndighetens utvecklingscentrum).

30 gang leaders from criminal networks such as “Foxtrot”, “Death Squad” and “Bandidos” have received more than 100 amnesties, avoiding punishment for crimes such as buying sex, drug offenses, weapons offenses and drunk driving.

– That they get amnesty. I think they completely missed the point, says Jale Poljarevius, head of intelligence for the Central Police Region.

He points out that it sends the wrong signal that serious criminals with a clean record can escape punishment for crimes they have actually committed.

A question of “resources”

Chief Prosecutor Lennart Guné says it is basically a question of resources, and that not prosecuting makes it easier for the legal system to deal with those who commit many crimes.

– There are legal systems that increase the penalty for each additional crime. You may have heard of multi-century sentences in some jurisdictions. This creates problems and needs to be addressed in some way.

However, critics point out that it is inappropriate and unfair that notorious repeat offenders are rewarded and escape consequences for most of the crimes they commit – as long as they are also convicted of even more serious crimes.

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