700 police officers conduct raids across NRW over Hells Angels ban

A large-scale operation on Wednesday involving over 700 police officers including special forces is still underway. Dozens of flats and shops in North Rhine-Westphalia in areas with a heavy Hells Angels presence have been searched.

700 police officers conduct raids across NRW over Hells Angels ban
File photo: DPA.

The raids started at 6am on Wednesday morning and were still ongoing in the late morning.

Officials have been on duty in 16 German cities and about 50 properties have been searched. Due to the “dangerousness of some bikers”, the police have used special task forces in some locations. Investigators and numerous service dogs have also been on site.

The operation was initiated to enforce the interior ministry of NRW’s ban – announced early on Wednesday morning – on a group of Hells Angels active in the Erkrath area close to Düsseldorf and their sub-organization Clan 81 Germany, according to the police in Essen.

The biker gang and its members' purpose and activities are in violation of criminal law, according to the NRW interior ministry’s statement. A ministry spokesperson said that the ban was justified because of sufficient evidence available; the criminal gang had been monitored for some time.

“It is still far too early to draw any results,” said spokesman for the police in Essen, Lars Lindemann. The deployment could continue into the afternoon, he added. The police have so far not provided any information on possible arrests.

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“The law does not accept that parallel societies can proliferate in which their authority and monopoly on violence are ignored,” said NRW interior minister Herbert Reul.

Lindemann said that the police should also confiscate the organization’s assets. In Erkrath, motorcycles belonging to the biker gang have already been seized.

A motorcycle belonging to a Hells Angel member confiscated in Erkrath on Monday. Photo: DPA.

“The members of the organization have demonstrated they are criminals. Their everyday lives consist of violence, weapons, drugs and forced prostitution,” said Raul.

People are terrified of this and the ban is part of a zero-tolerance strategy of the state government against criminal biker gangs, the interior minister added.

With a strong member count, Hells Angels are considered to be the most powerful biker gang in the world. The organization was set up in 1948 in California by group of Harley Davidson motorbike fans. It quickly grew worldwide, with a presence now in about 30 countries.

The first German offshoot was created in 1973. Hells Angels are notorious in Germany for their links to drug smuggling, prostitution and other organized crime.

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