Quarter of all Dutch 'Angels' held as weapons are found
UPDATED 18 October 2005, AMSTERDAM — 42 members of the Hells Angels were still in custody in the Netherlands on Tuesday, a day after a series of police raids.
UPDATED 18 October 2005
AMSTERDAM — 42 members of the Hells Angels were still in custody in the Netherlands on Tuesday, a day after a series of police raids.
The detainees are to appear in court on Thursday in relation to an investigation into serious crimes, including drug dealing and weapons smuggling.
It is unclear if all 42 will be arraigned, the public prosecutor said on Tuesday.
The Dutch National Detective Service detained the members of the Hells Angels in a series of coordinated raids on Monday morning.
Detectives, backed up by firearms units, carried out raids on Hells Angels clubhouses and homes in several Dutch cities.
Police seized a grenade launcher with ammunition, a flame-thrower, two hand grenades, a smoke grenade, a percussion cap, a submachine gun and 19 other guns. They also discovered EUR 70,000, six bunch of cannabis plants, and several expensive watches.
About 1,000 officers were involved and 64 locations were searched in the planned operation. Television footage of one of the raids showed officers with automatic weapons standing guard as a bulldozer knocked a hole in a fence around the Hells Angels property.
Some 45 members of the motorbike club were arrested, Justice officials said. It is estimated there are a total of 200 Hells Angels in the Netherlands.
Police called on Monday for anyone with information about criminal activity by the Hells Angels to come forward.
The raids on Hells Angels properties in Amsterdam, Haarlem, IJmuiden, Harlingen, Kampen and Rotterdam were part of an investigation launched in 2003.
Police began the investigation after allegations the Angels were involved in murder, extortion, as well as trading in guns and drugs.
Justice officials have long claimed the Hells Angels is a criminal organisation while the Angels insist they are simply biking enthusiasts.
The authorities retreated somewhat for earlier pronouncements and said the investigation, in the first instance, was not focusing on the Hells Angels as a criminal organisation.
Instead, detectives were working to gather evidence that certain members of the club were using the Hells Angels name, reputation and facilities to help them commit crime.
Twelve Hells Angels bikers from Limburg were jailed for six years last March for the manslaughter of their club president, Paul de Vries.
The president of the Nomads chapter of the Hells Angels in Limburg, and two fellow members, Serge Wagener and Cor Pijnenburg, were shot dead in the chapter's clubhouse.
Their bodies were found in a stream near the southern Dutch town of Echt on 13 February last year. It was alleged the men died in a dispute over a missing consignment of cocaine.
The police raids were carried out to obtain evidence to support the contention that the Hells Angels is a criminal organisation, which could be outlawed.
'Big Willem' van Boxtel, the former president of the Hells Angels in Amsterdam, was among those arrested, his lawyer said on Monday.
Van Boxtel denied allegations by a witness in Limburg murder trial that he had sanctioned the murder of De Vries and the other two men.
'Big Willem' was expelled from the Hells Angels last year because he had allegedly been offered EUR 1 million by property tycoon Willem Endstra to murder convicted Heineken kidnapper Willem Holleeder.
It was suggested that 'Big Willem' was to kill 'Angel friend' Holleeder by bombing the Angel's clubhouse in Amsterdam. No attack was carried out on Holleeder but Endstra was shot dead in Amsterdam in May 2004.
[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2005]
Subject: Dutch news