Teen gang, Postal Police: ”Central web for gang formation, monitoring for enforcement”

the director Ivano Gabrielli: ”The network from an identity space to a crime planning place”

”There are two moments in the online activity of youth gangs: that of propaganda and ostentation of the identity trait of a group, which is therefore public and, even with radical elements, absolutely legal, and that of confidentiality, or when these young people organize, agree or exchange illegal material within small and closed groups in which being confidant is necessary to be able to become part of the nucleus, which is hidden within several concentric circles of conversation”. Ivano Gabrielli, director of the Postal and Communications Police Service, explains this to Adnkronos when speaking about the phenomenon of teen gangs, that is, groups of young people between 14 and 18 who commit crimes, from fights to sexual violence.

”The internet is central: it is online that a certain type of narrative is formed, the internet is the constant vehicle with which young people communicate, with which they form an opinion, with which they get information and with which they also feel part of a group – clarifies the director of the Postal and Communications Police Service – There is no longer just the real dynamic of seeing each other in a place, frequenting the same place, dressing in the same way or having the same tattoos. A group is also identified by its acronyms, by the slang it uses online, by its acronyms, by the groups and Telegram channels it accesses and is part of”.

And therefore ”youth gangs” also proliferate online through ”publications of photos, stories, behaviors but also through the launch of challenges” and the Postal Police constantly keeps the phenomenon under observation, which ”can be ascribed within a broader category which is that of juvenile deviance”. Monitoring takes place at a central level through a systematic study which is carried out by the Computer Crime analysis unit, made up of a team of psychologists from the State Police and which each time probes phenomenologies, age, recurring behaviors to understand which is the best intervention” both in terms of ”preventive and contrast”. This is an activity, he underlines, which ”contributes, as far as we are concerned, to the management of public order and safety”.

It is obvious, he adds, that if ”these gangs or even individual kids plan or relaunch initiatives, ranging from public brawls to aggression to the planning of acts of vandalism or devastation, as has happened in some cities, also aimed at theft of valuable objects or clothing, the information elements are shared for the better planning of police services by the Police Headquarters and the competent police departments”. ”On the investigative side, monitoring can also lead to law enforcement activities: investigations that end with the reporting of children, whether minors or adults, for what constitutes criminal behaviour,” he explains.

This happened for example with ”the investigation that was recently carried out by our Operations Center in Milan on a group of young people who, in addition to boasting xenophobic, racist, extremist and supremacist ideologies, had at the center of their conversations the construction, the use and use of weapons” which resulted in the denunciation of several young people who ”were not all in the same area but who had relationships with each other”, he says.

Another investigation, he says, ”carried out by our Center in Genoa, with the local Digos, put under the magnifying glass ”a group of young people who instead made violence their reason for cohesion”: the young they self-fed ”their perversion with the circulation of gruesome material such as executions, rape of children, Gore material (that material so violent that it is difficult for an adult accustomed to darker things to watch it). Their peculiarity was to meet and train in the use of weapons even by simulating scenes of attacks against well-known political figures”.

The investigation into the New Year’s Eve in Florence, explains Gabrielli, ”concerned young people who made their circle a closed group, where they committed crimes or illicit acts such as the consumption of drugs and alcohol under age up to acts of sexual violence ”. And on the prevention work front, the most important part that a police structure must carry out, he recalls that ”this year, thanks to the information activity, we managed to avoid what happened two years ago on June 2nd on the lake of Garda”.

As for the more extemporaneous phenomena, Gabrielli explains that they are ”very difficult to grasp”, you have to ”be constantly online, it becomes an activity that cannot fail to be continuous”. ”Once upon a time we were able to monitor demonstrations by observing the trend of tweets, it was prehistoric times – he continues – today channels are opened and closed on communication platforms that are difficult to penetrate. We have also seen it with raves: although the internet is the vehicle with which the rave is perhaps organised, what we have seen first-hand is the difficulty of identifying the channel, the correct message, the small circle in which it is actually promoted that type of illegal demonstration – he concludes – and yet they say, it’s all online, it’s all before our eyes. To give you an idea, there is an Israeli saying that says the best way to hide a tree is to plant it in a forest”. (by Giorgia Sodaro)