The Berlin state parliament banned the “Berlin City” chapter of the gang on Tuesday evening on the grounds that members were suspected of violent crimes as well as weapons and drugs offences.
The initial plan was to carry out raids during the day on Wednesday, but this had to be pulled forward after an informer tipped off gang members, and the police moved in to hand over the official banning notice on Tuesday night.
“Unfortunately we have to assume that people from our own ranks gave information to these criminals in return for money,” a police spokesman said, adding that the betrayal was shameful for the police force.
The city’s police say there are more than 1,000 biker-gang members in Berlin, of whom more than 400 belong to the Bandidos. The Frankfurter Rundschau newspaper said just over 200 Hells Angels members are known to the authorities.
Rivalry between the two gangs can often be deadly and is usually over turf disagreements concerning prostitution and drugs business – but it was reported on Wednesday that many members end up changing sides, sometimes for very pragmatic reasons.
Der Spiegel news magazine said in its online edition that the Bandidos “Southside” gang had disbanded itself ahead of an anticipated official ban, and many of the members had switched to the Hells Angels in Potsdam. They had re-registered their motorbikes and hidden some, the magazine reported.
The Berliner Morgenpost online edition even said that the Berlin Hells Angels chapter had officially disbanded in order to avoid a possible ban.
A member of the Bandidos was on Tuesday shot to death in the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia in what police believe could have been an attack by the Hells Angels.
Police carried out large-scale raids on biker gangs in northern Germany last week and police are now hunting for the body of a man they fear has been cemented into the floor of a warehouse.