Markku Heinikari, a detective chief superintendent at Helsinki Police Department, spoke at a press conference held by the National Police Board and Helsinki Police Department in Helsinki on Tuesday, 14 March 2023. Heinikari revealed, for example, that police officers have confiscated several firearms from people believed to be affiliated with gangs in the early parts of 2023. (Antti Hämäläinen – Lehtikuva)


GANGS have become a regular feature on the streets of Helsinki.

“The roots of the phenomenon are in the capital region, but unfortunately the phenomenon is rearing its ugly head also in other large cities,” Sanna Heikinheimo, a deputy police commissioner at the National Police Board, was said at a news conference on Tuesday.

The gangs have been linked to, for example, drug, violent and traffic offences.

The activities of such gangs have increased particularly in the capital city, with police receiving reports of the key members on an almost daily basis. Such activities may have gone unnoticed by the wider public, according to Markku Heinikari, a detective chief superintendent at Helsinki Police Department.

Police, he revealed, have confiscated numerous firearms from people affiliated with gangs in the early parts of this year, including three on a single night in January. Gang members have also been found in possession of considerable amounts of cash and small amounts of narcotics.

The majority of people affiliated with gangs are first or second-generation immigrants who were either born or have obtained citizenship in Finland.

Helsinki Police Department on Tuesday shed light on one gang-related investigation consisting of almost two dozen offences committed in 2021–2022 and 23 suspects between the ages of 18 and 19 years. The suspected ring leader is a 24-year-old man who has been previously found guilty of illegal threat and traffic offences.

The man is suspected of firing shots at a 25-year-old man, wounding him in the leg, over what is believed to have been a dispute over a debt in Vuosaari, Helsinki. Two younger men, aged 18 and 19 years, are also suspected of offences in connection with the incident.

The gang leader is also suspected of firing shots at members of another gang from a car outside a fast food restaurant in the same neighbourhood.

He was arrested and detained following a robbery that took place last autumn, in apparent connection with a months-long effort to extort money from a 26-year-old victim. The pre-trial investigation indicates that the man has continued to issue orders to gang members from remand as part of a plan to harm the 26-year-old victim and their family members.

He is consequently suspected of preparation of an aggravated offence against life or death.

Suspects in the case are also suspected of aggravated drug offences, sex crimes against children and firearms offences, with investigators confiscating two handguns, four long-barrel firearms and one assault rifle.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT