UPDATED: Norwegian police have confirmed that not only is the criminal network Foxtrot active in Norway, it’s also probably behind a kidnapping in Trondheim earlier this year. A dozen suspects have been charged in the case, while officials are also monitoring Foxtrot in six other police districts around the country.
Other Swedish organized crime networks also offer their services for Norwegian criminal groups, according to state crime unit Kripos. Newspaper Dagbladet reported Friday that police in Oslo also had arrested two Swedish gang members in connection with a shooting in the Norwegian capital’s Nordstrand neighbourhood Tuesday evening.
Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet reported in May, meanwhile, that the son of a Norwegian artist had been kidnapped in Trondheim last spring. The artist was then hit by a ransom demand amounting to several hundred thousand kroner, according to Aftonbladet, and threatened that his son would be killed if he didn’t pay the ransom.
The young man had been seen being forced into a car in Trondheim, and local police mounted a major response. He was released uninjured later the same night, and police charged four suspects in the case including a teenage boy. Now the number of defendants has tripled.
The network has since been behind a recent wave of violence, shootings and explosions in Sweden, all believed to be part of rivalry among criminal organizations active in the drug trade. Both Trondheim newspaper Adresseavisen and Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported on Thursday that the network has been linked to the kidnapping.
“Police think the case in Trondheim has ties to the Foxtrot network in Sweden,” Bente Bøklepp, prosecutor for the Trøndelag Police District, told NRK. She based her statement on information that has emerged during the police investigation into the kidnapping.
“We can’t go into details now, that information will come forth in court,” Bøklepp said. She added, though, that recent developments “are extremely worrisome for society and this threat (posed by the criminal networks) must be taken seriously.”
Another victim of the network was killed on Thursday in an explosion in Uppsala that’s also been tied to Foxtrot. She’s the 12th fatality in the past month of violence that also left two dead in shootings around Stockholm Wednesday night.
Norway’s national police unit Kripos confirmed to NRK earlier this week that Foxtrot also operates in Norway. “Yes, there have been registered criminal activities in Norway that we can trace back to the Foxtrot network,” Trond Bruen Olsen of Kripos told NRK. He’s the leader of Kripos’ section dealing with organized crime and said the Swedish criminal network has been active all over the country.
“Swedish criminal gangs’ activity in Norway has become more visible over the past year,” Olsen said, “both that they’ve established themselves in various portions of the country and that they’ve become involved in violent assignments in Norway.” He declined to go into detail regarding the extent of Foxtrot’s operation or recruiting in Norway. The network is known for recruting troubled youth under the age of 18 who can’t be legally held criminally responsible for their actions.
“We have control over the situation and the criminal networks that operate in Norway,” Olsen claimed, “but to maintain control, Norwegian authorities need to work continually to prevent and investigate (the networks’) crimes.”
Both the chief of police in Oslo and the head of the state police have held meetings with their Swedish counterparts lately to boost their cooperation. Justice Minister Emilie Enger Mehl has also met her political counterpart in Sweden, in an effort to join forces in the battle against the networks.