The arrests, made last month but only revealed on Wednesday, would seem to justify fears that the Scandinavian gang war between Hells Angels and Bandidos could spread to Germany in the wake of police pressure, closure of some clubs – and crucially, some members switching between gangs.
Raids on gang addresses are becoming routine, with Wednesday seeing more in Eberswalde, Cottbus and Britz in Brandenburg as well as Karlsruhe, Bautzen, Chemnitz and Dresden. These latest were in connection with the banning of the Berlin City Hells Angels chapter.
Berlin police issued dire warnings in early July. Now, the Tagesspiegel newspaper reports, it appears this came after the arrest of the three men.
A tip from Sweden led to the arrests in the northern port town of Rostock of a Swede, a Macedonian and an Iranian – the latter two of whom live in Denmark. Two are alleged to be Bandido members while the third was said to be in close contact to the gang.
Arriving in a rented car from Denmark on the ferry, the three men had nearly a kilo of explosives, a detonator and bullet-proof vests. The men are still in investigative custody, the newspaper said.
Authorities in Berlin are keeping the men they think would have been targets of the attack under observation.
Police sources told the paper this would probably include the former head of the Berlin Bandidos chapter who switched to the Hells Angels in May in order to avoid an official ban.
Those who know the scene say that switching loyalties is punishable and that the Bandidos have lost influence within Berlin to the Hells Angels and could thus be launching attacks to win back territory.
Violence between the gangs has escalated over the last few months, while the Hells Angels issued what amounted to a declaration of war at the start of July, saying no other gang would be tolerated in Berlin.
Hells Angels leader André Sommer was shot at the start of June, while a month later two Bandidos were also shot, during a meeting of the gang's leadership.
“Berlin is of great strategic importance for the rival gangs,” Berlin's Interior Minister Frank Henkel said. “He who loses influence in Berlin loses it in the whole of eastern Germany. That is why there is conflict here.”