Bavaria's Deputy Interior Minister Jürgen Heike told newspaper Welt am Sonntag that authorities in the southern German state had registered the growing presence of the biker gang. “There are initial indications, and there have been incidents, showing that the Hells Angels are establishing themselves in Bavaria," Heike said. “We are monitoring the rise of organizational structures like those in the Mafia,” he said in an interview to be published in full on Sunday.
Hells Angels, written off as a bunch of wild-living bikers by some, have been linked in many countries to dealing in illegal drugs and arms, to prostitution, people smuggling and money laundering.
Heike said southern Germany was of increasing interest to the gang because of drug routes running through south-eastern 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 Bavaria, Germany's largest state, put the number of gang members at 414, organized into 42 so-called chapters. Last year they launched investigations into 27 members.
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.