At It Again
Berlin Fears Escalating Biker Violence
A recent attack on Hell's Angels bikers near Berlin has brought an end to a truce between the club and its rival gang, the Bandidos. Officials fear that it might set off a string of revenge attacks -- a destructive pattern which has plagued the two groups in the past.
The Hell's Angels and the Bandidos may be at it again. In an ongoing conflict, apparently fueled by a desire for turf, honor, and revenge, officials say the rival biker gangs are on the brink of returning to the violent tactics they reportedly agreed to abandon several months ago.
The Berliner Morgenpost reported on Wednesday that four members of the Hell's Angels were injured Saturday night in an attack in a small town in the eastern German state of Brandenburg.
Residents heard shouts near a freeway exit and saw a car with Berlin plates fleeing the scene, leaving behind a demolished Kia. Inside the totaled car were four wounded bikers, including André S., president of the Nomads -- an important group within the Hell's Angels. One of the other men was hit in the leg by an ax, ultimately requiring amputation.
In recent months, numerous reports indicated that the two groups were working on a truce agreement in Germany. But the attack could mark an end to such efforts. Indeed, there have been frequent reports of violence between members of the two gangs in recent months. Just last week, police in the northern German state of Schleswig Holstein confiscated numerous weapons from members of both gangs and said they feared a gang war was imminent.
The inter-gang violence has been simmering for years and resulted in a 2007 murder which saw two Bandidos shooting to death a member of the Hell's Angels.
Although the Hell's Angels were the first biker gang in Germany, the Bandidos have been trying to expand since a German motorcycle club first joined the international Bandido community in November 1999. In addition to a competition over territory, the gangs also compete over their respective shares in the drug trade, small arms sales, gambling, protection rackets, bars and brothels. Some biker gangs in Germany are also becoming involved in other business activities such as real estate or security firms.
"The problem is that the Bandidos are continuing to expand," an official at the Berlin district attorney's office told the Morgenpost. "They are trying to gain more turf and are recruiting many new members. It was clear that the Hell's Angels wouldn't allow this for very long."