Germans say Hells Angels are spreading their wings

13th May 2008, Comments 0 comments

The motorcycle group, which has been linked to organized crime in many countries, has long been established in northern Europe.

Berlin -- The Hells Angels are extending their sphere of influence into southern Germany, the Bavarian Interior Ministry warned in a recent report.

The motorcycle group, which has been linked to organized crime in many countries, has long been established in northern Europe.

"There are initial indications, and there have been incidents, showing that the Hells Angels are establishing themselves in Bavaria," state Interior Minister Juergen Heike told Die Welt newspaper. "We are monitoring the rise of organizational structures like those in the Mafia."

The newspaper noted that the gang had in the past been linked to dealing in illegal drugs and arms and to prostitution, protection rackets and money laundering.

Heike said southern Germany was of increasing interest to the gang because of drug routes running through southeastern Europe and the Balkans.

"The Hells Angels are organized on an international basis and target areas where they can make money," he said.

Police in the southern state, Germany's largest, put the number of gang members at 414, organized into 42 so-called chapters. Investigations into 27 members had been initiated last year.

In December last year, Dutch prosecutors failed in their efforts to have the Hells Angels declared a criminal association after an Amsterdam court ruled that confidential conversations between members and their lawyers had been bugged illegally.

In an earlier case, 12 members of the related Nomads club were acquitted of the murder of three of their number in the southern Dutch province of Limburg in 2004.

The court found that it could not be established precisely who had carried out the murders.

DPA

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