By Humphrey Carter

THERE are at least 10 predominantly South American teenage gangs at large in Palma.
The city's gang culture has been under close scrutiny by the local authorities and the police since a 16-year-old West African immigrant was stabbed to death in the centre of the city by rival teenage gang members.

Majorca's Latin gang-culture was one of the topics discussed at last week's Balearic crime convention, which ended on Sunday.
According to Luis Novell Torres, coordinator of the police's anti-physical abuse unit, there are 10 confirmed gangs in the capital while, as yet, none have been reported in Minorca or Ibiza.

The two most famous gangs are the local branches of the international Ñetas and Latin Kings but, Torres claims that the teenage gangs “are not conflictive”. That said, Palma's police forces last year set up a special unit to keep an eye on gang activities and many of the members are under constant surveillance.

Most of the gang members are aged between 14 and 25 and tend to meet near Latino bars, cafes and amusement halls in the squares in Santa Pagesa or Son Gotleu and the neighbourhoods of Gomila, Cala Mayor and Arenal.

According to criminology experts, nearly all of the gangs were formed five years ago but have expanded little since.
However, while the activities of teenage gangs appear to have settled down and pose no threat to society, the members of the various security forces who attended the Palma crime convention, around 150 in total, agreed over the weekend that they lack sufficient human resources, materials and infrastructure to deal with gang activity in general.

Many investigations mounted by the Balearics police have to be carried out in cooperation with experts and colleagues from the mainland.
But, despite one of Europe's most active hashish smuggling cartels being dismantled in Majorca at the end of last week, police chiefs are maintaining that organised criminal gangs are not very active in the Balearics.