Hells Angels New York City
|Territory||230 chapters, 27 countries, 6 continents|
|Criminal activities||Racketeering, drug trafficking, arms trafficking, assault, extortion, money laundering, murder, prostitution and trafficking in stolen goods |
|Allies||AK81, Aryan Brotherhood, Cali Cartel, Indian Posse, Iron Horsemen and Warlocks|
|Rivals||Bandidos, Mongols, Outlaws, Pagans and Vagos|
The Hells Angels Motorcycle Club (HAMC) is a worldwide one-percenter motorcycle gang and organized crime syndicate whose members typically ride Harley-Davidson motorcycles. In the United States and Canada, the Hells Angels are incorporated as the Hells Angels Motorcycle Corporation. Their primary motto is "When we do right, nobody remembers. When we do wrong, nobody forgets".
Both the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Criminal Intelligence Service Canada classify the Angels as one of the "big four" motorcycle gangs, contending that members carry out widespread violence, drug dealing, trafficking in stolen goods, and extortion. Members of the organization have continuously asserted that they are only a group of motorcycle enthusiasts who have joined to ride motorcycles together, to organize social events such as group road trips, fundraisers, parties, and motorcycle rallies.
The history of the Hells Angels is shrouded in mystery and controversy, due in part to the fact that various individuals have been solely attributed to its founding, and also due in part to a very strict code of secrecy and what can be construed as a practice of deliberate mythologizing by some members of the club. Members don't use last names, even with one another. They just use a first name, and, more often than not, a nickname. Due to its colorful history and the confirmed links of some of its members to organized crime, speculation and rumor about both the club's history and activities are rife.
The Hells Angels were originally formed in 1948 in Fontana, California. through an amalgamation of former members from different motorcycle clubs, such as the The Pissed Off Bastards of Bloomington. The name "Hells Angels" was believed to have been inspired by the common historical use, in both World War I and World War II, to name squadrons or other fighting groups by fierce, death-defying name. The Flying Tigers in China fielded three squadrons of aircraft, and one squadron was named "Hell's Angels". The 1930 Howard Hughes film Hell's Angels displayed extraordinary and dangerous feats of aviation. Several military units used the name Hells Angels prior to the founding of the motorcycle club of the same name, including the U.S. Air Force 303rd USAAF Heavy Bombardment Group (H), a military unit formed in the early years of World War II, and the 11th Airborne Division. Some Hells Angels have attempted to dispel the belief that there is any connection, other than the name, between the HAMC and the historic military Hell's Angels. The group's official website clarifies that the name was suggested to the founders of the club by a friend of theirs, Arvid "Oley" Olsen, who was a member of the Flying Tigers. No actual members of that squadron became members of the HAMC.
Some of the early history of the HAMC is not clear, and accounts differ. According to Ralph 'Sonny' Barger, founder of the Oakland chapter, early chapters of the club were founded in San Francisco, Gardena, Fontana, and other places independently of one another, with the members usually being unaware that there were other Hells Angels clubs.
Other sources claim that the Hells Angels in San Francisco were originally organized in 1953 by Rocky Graves, a Hells Angel member from San Bernardino ("Berdoo"). This implies that the "Frisco" Hells Angels were very much aware of their forebearers. According to another account, the Hells Angels club was a successor to "P.O.B.O.B." Motorcycle club, The "Frisco" Hells Angels were reorganized in 1955 with thirteen charter members; Frank Sadliek, who designed the original death's head logo, served as President. The Oakland chapter, at that time headed by Barger, used a larger version of the patch nicknamed the "Barger Larger" which was first used in 1959 and later became the club standard.
The Hells Angels are sometimes depicted in a similar mythical fashion as the James-Younger Gang, as modern day legends, or as free spirited and iconic of an era of brotherhood and loyalty. Others describe them as a violent criminal gang and a scourge on society.
The Hells Angels official web site attributes the official "death's head" insignia design to Frank Sadilek, past president of the San Francisco Chapter. The colors and shape of the early-style jacket emblem (prior to 1953) were copied from the insignias of the 85th Fighter Squadron and the 552nd Medium Bomber Squadron.
The Hells Angels utilize a system of patches, similar to military medals. Although the specific meaning of each patch is not publicly known, the patches identify specific or significant actions or beliefs of each biker. The official colors of the Hells Angels are red lettering displayed on a white background—hence the club's nickname "The Red and White". These patches are worn on leather or denim jackets and vests.
Red and white are also used to display the number 81 on many patches, as in "Support 81, Route 81". The 8 and 1 stand for the respective positions in the alphabet of H and A. These are used by friends and supporters of the club, as only full members can wear any Hells Angels imagery.
The diamond-shaped one-percenter patch is also used, displaying '1%', in red on a white background with a red merrowed border. The term one-percenter is said to be a response to the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) comment on the Hollister incident, to the effect that 99% of motorcyclists were law-abiding citizens and the last 1% were outlaws. The AMA has no record of such a statement to the press, and call this story apocryphal.
Most members wear a rectangular patch (again, white background with red letters and a red merrowed border) identifying their respective chapter locations. Another similarly designed patch reads "Hells Angels".
When applicable, members of the club wear a patch denoting their position or rank within the organization. The patch is rectangular, and, similarly to the patches described above, displays a white background with red letters and a red merrowed border. Some examples of the titles used are President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer, and Sergeant at Arms. This patch is usually worn above the 'club location' patch.
Some members also wear a patch with the initials "AFFA", which stands for "Angels Forever; Forever Angels", referring to their lifelong membership in the biker club (i.e., "once a member, always a member").
The book Gangs, written by Tony Thompson (a crime correspondent for The Observer newspaper), states that Stephen Cunningham, a member of the Angels, sported a new patch after he recovered from attempting to set a bomb: two Nazi-style SS lightning bolts below the words 'Filthy Few'. Some law enforcement officials claim that the patch is only awarded to those who have committed, or are prepared to commit, murder on behalf of the club. According to a report from the R. v. Bonner and Lindsay case in 2005 (see related section below), another patch, similar to the 'Filthy Few' patch, is the 'Dequiallo' patch. This patch "signifies that the wearer has fought law enforcement on arrest". There is no common convention as to where the patches are located on the members' jacket/vest.
In March 2007 the Hells Angels filed suit against Walt Disney Motion Pictures Group alleging that the film entitled Wild Hogs used both the name and distinctive logo of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Corporation without permission.
The full requirements to become a Hells Angel are the following: candidates must be male, white, have a valid driver's license, have a working motorcycle and cannot be a child molester or have applied to become a police officer or prison guard.
After a lengthy, phased process, a prospective member is first deemed to be a 'Hang-around', indicating that the individual is invited to some club events or to meet club members at known gathering places.
If the Hang-around is interested, he may be asked to become an 'Associate', a status that usually lasts a year or two. At the end of that stage, he is reclassified as 'Prospect', participating in some club activities, but not having voting privileges, while he is evaluated for suitability as a full member. The last phase, and highest membership status, is 'Full Membership' or 'Full-Patch'. The term Full-Patch refers to the complete four-piece crest, including the 'Death's Head' logo, two rockers (top rocker: 'Hells Angels'; bottom rocker: State or Territory claimed) and the rectangular 'MC' patch below the wing of the Death's Head. Prospects are allowed to wear only a bottom rocker with the State or Territory name along with the rectangular 'MC' patch.
To become a full member, the Prospect must be voted on by the rest of the full club members. Prior to votes being cast, a Prospect usually travels to every chapter in the sponsoring chapter's geographic jurisdiction (state/province/territory) and introduces himself to every Full-Patch. This process allows each voting member to become familiar with the subject and to ask any questions of concern prior to the vote. Successful admission usually requires more than a simple majority, and some clubs may reject a Prospect for a single dissenting vote. Some form of formal induction follows, wherein the Prospect affirms his loyalty to the club and its members. The final logo patch (top Hells Angels rocker) is then awarded at this initiation ceremony. The step of attaining full membership can be referred to as "being patched".
Even after a member is patched-in the patches themselves remain the property of HAMC rather than the member. On leaving the Hells Angels, or being ejected, they must be returned to the club.
The HAMC acknowledges more than one hundred chapters spread over 29 countries. The first official chapter outside of the U.S. was formed in New Zealand in 1961. Europe did not become home to the Hells Angels until 1969, when two London chapters were formed after the Beatle George Harrison invited some members of the HAMC San Francisco to London. Two people from London visited California, "prospected", and ultimately joined. Two charters were issued on July 30, 1969; one for "South London", the other for "East London" but by 1973 the two charters came together as one, simply called "London". The London Angels provided security at a number of UK Underground festivals including Phun City in 1970 organized by anarchist International Times writer and lead singer with the The Deviants Mick Farren. They even awarded Farren an "approval patch" in 1970 for use on his first solo album Mona, which also featured Steve Peregrin Took (who was credited as "Shagrat the Vagrant"). The 1980s and 1990s saw a major expansion of the club into Canada.
A list of acknowledged chapters can be found on the HAMC club's official web site.
One major event in Hells Angels' history involved the December 6, 1969, Altamont Free Concert at the Altamont Speedway — partially documented in the 1970 film Gimme Shelter — featuring Jefferson Airplane, The Flying Burrito Brothers, and The Rolling Stones. The Grateful Dead were also scheduled to perform but canceled at the last minute owing to the ensuing circumstances at the venue. The Angels had been hired by The Rolling Stones as crowd security for a fee which was said to include $500 worth of beer. The Angels parked their motorcycles in front of the stage in order to create a buffer between the stage and the tens of thousands of concertgoers.
Crowd management proved to be difficult: many spectators were injured and four died. One was Meredith Hunter, two others were killed by a hit-and-run driver and the fourth died when he or she drowned in a puddle of water. Over the course of the day, the Hells Angels became increasingly agitated as the crowd turned more aggressive. Denise Jewkes of the Ace of Cups, six months pregnant and on stage observing, was hit in the head by an empty beer bottle thrown from the crowd and wound up in the hospital with a fractured skull.
At the murder trial of Hells Angel Alan Passaro, a security guard testified he heard the Hells Angels being summoned over the loudspeakers when the helicopter bearing The Rolling Stones landed. Debate after the event was over whether or not the Hells Angels were to manage security for the entire concert or just for The Rolling Stones. Sam Cutler, the Stones' agent who had arranged to pay the Hells Angels said their role was as bodyguards to the Rolling Stones. This was denied by the Hells Angels as well as others connected to the event. During the opening act of Santana, the Hells Angels surged into the crowd numerous times to keep persons off stage.
By the time The Rolling Stones took stage, numerous incidents of violence had occurred both between the Hells Angels and internally within the crowd. A huge circus performer weighing over 350 pounds stripped naked and plunged through the crowd. Concert goers attempted to detain him. Several Hells Angels leaped from the stage and subdued the man with fists and pool cues. A crowd of between 4,000 and 5,000 had jammed to the very edge of the stage, and many attempted to climb onto it.
The Angels used sawn-off pool cues in order to control the crowd. After one of the Angels' motor bikes was knocked over, the Angels became even more aggressive, even toward the performers onstage. Marty Balin of Jefferson Airplane was knocked unconscious following an altercation with an Angel on stage as seen in the documentary film Gimme Shelter. The Grateful Dead refused to play following the Balin incident, and left the venue.
A shoving match erupted near the stage during a rendition of the song Under My Thumb. A concert patron by the name of Meredith Hunter produced a handgun. Hunter was stabbed to death. A Hells Angel member, Alan Passaro, was later acquitted of murder on grounds of self-defense. After the concert and critical media attention given to the HAMC, Sonny Barger went on a local California radio station to justify the actions of the Hells Angels and to present their side of the story. He claimed that violence only started once the crowd began vandalizing the Hells Angels' motorcycles. Barger would later claim that Meredith fired a shot which struck a Hells Angels member with what he described as "just a flesh wound."
In 2005, after a two year exhaustive cold-case renewal of the file, the Alameda County District Attorney's office permanently closed the case. An enhanced and slowed down version of the original film footage was produced for the police, and after examining it Alameda County Sheriff's Sgt. Scott Dudek said Passaro, who died in 1985, was the only person to stab Hunter and he did so only after Hunter pointed a handgun at the stage where the Stones were performing.
Alan Passaro is the only person that stabbed Meredith Hunter, Dudek said, adding that Passaro's lawyer confirmed his client was the sole assailant. "Passaro acted with a knife to stop Meredith Hunter from shooting."
In addition, enhanced and slowed-down footage from the film shows Hunter brandishing the handgun just before Passaro stabs him. 
The River Run Riot occurred on April 27, 2002, at the Harrah's Casino & Hotel in Laughlin, Nevada. Members of the Hells Angels and the Mongols motorcycle clubs fought each other on the casino floor. As a result, Mongol Anthony Barrera, 43, was stabbed to death, and two Hells Angels, Jeramie Bell, 27, and Robert Tumelty, 50, were shot to death. On February 23, 2007 Hells Angels members James Hannigan and Rodney Cox were sentenced to two years in prison. Cox and Hannigan were captured on videotape confronting Mongols members inside the casino. A Hells Angel member can be clearly seen on the casino security videotape performing a front kick on a Mongol biker member, causing the ensuing melee.
However, prior to this altercation, several incidents of harassment and provocation were noted in the Clark County, Nevada Grand Jury hearings as having been perpetrated upon The Hells Angels. Members of the Mongols accosted a vendor's table selling Hells Angels trademarked items, had surrounded a Hells Angel and demanded he remove club clothing. In addition, nine witnesses claimed the fight began when a Mongol kicked a member of the Hells Angels. Regardless of which minor physical incident can be said to have "caused the melee", it is clear that The Hells Angels had come to confront the Mongols concerning their actions.
Attorneys for the group claim they were defending themselves from an attack initiated by the Mongols.
Charges were dismissed against 36 other Hells Angels originally named in the indictment.
On January 28, 2007 a woman named Roberta Shalaby was found badly beaten on the sidewalk outside the Hells Angels' clubhouse in at 77 East Third Street in the East Village, Manhattan. The resulting investigation by the NYPD has been criticized by the group for its intensity. The police were refused access to the Hells Angels clubhouse and responded by closing off the area, setting up sniper positions, and sending in armored personnel carriers. After obtaining a warrant, the police searched the club-house and arrested one Hells Angel who was later released. The group claims to have no connection with the beating of Roberta Shalaby. Five security cameras cover the entrance to the New York chapter's East 3rd Street club house, but the NY HAMC maintains nobody knows how Shalaby was beaten nearly to death at their front door. The members were later exonerated and the club is now suing the city of New York for damages to their clubhouse.
In 2001 Hells Angels Rodney Lee Rollness and Joshua Binder murdered Michael "Santa" Walsh, who had allegedly falsely claimed to be a member of the Hells Angels. Paul Foster, hoping to join the Hells Angels, aided in the murder by luring Walsh to a party at his house and helping cover up the crime. West Coast leader Richard "Smilin' Rick" Fable, along with Rollness and Binder, were also convicted of various racketeering offenses.
The Vancouver Sun newspaper reports that Canada has more Hells Angels members per capita than any other country, including the U.S., where there are chapters in about 20 states. Mr. Réal Ménard (Montréal, PQ) testified in Parliament that the Hells Angels had 38 chapters in Canada in 1995-1997.
The Hells Angels established their first Canadian chapters in the province of Quebec during the seventies. The Outlaws and several affiliated independent clubs were able to keep the Angels from assuming a dominant position in Ontario, Canada's most populous province, until the nineties, while the Grim Reapers of Alberta, Los Bravos in Manitoba, and several other independent clubs across the prairies formed a loose alliance that kept the Hells Angels from assuming dominance in the prairie provinces until the late nineties. By 1997, under the leadership of Walter "Nurget" Stadnick, the Hells Angels had become the dominant club not just in BC and Quebec, but all across Canada, with chapters in at least seven of ten provinces and two of the three territories.
In 2002 Crown Prosecutor Graeme Williams sought to have the Hells Angels formally declared a "criminal organization" by applying the anti-gang legislation (Bill C-24) to a criminal prosecution involving the Hells Angels and two of its members, Stephen (Tiger) Lindsay and Raymond (Razor) Bonner.
The prosecution team launched a three year investigation with the aim of collecting evidence for the trial.
At the conclusion of the trial in June 2005, Ontario Justice Michelle Fuerst ruled that Lindsay and Bonner had committed extortion in association with a criminal organization and had used the Hells Angels' reputation as a weapon.
The Quebec Biker war between the Hells Angels and the Rock Machine that began in 1994 and continued until late 2002 claimed more than 150 lives, including some innocent bystanders. Maurice (aka Mom Boucher ) Boucher was the leader of the Quebec chapters and second-in-command of the Canadian Nomad chapter, a chapter with no fixed geographic base. In May 2002 Boucher received an automatic life sentence, with no possibility of parole for at least 25 years, after conviction two counts of first-degree murder for the killings of two Canadian prison guards, ambushed on their way home. On The 15th April 2009, operation SharQc was conducted by the provincial police force sûreté du Québec.
The tough shell of secrecy that protected the Hells Angels for years finally cracked during an investigation that has resulted in the arrests of almost every member of the gang in Quebec. On The 15th April 2009, operation SharQc was conducted by the provincial police force sûreté du Québec. It is the biggest strike at the HAMC in Canada's history and probably in all of HAMC's history. In all 177 strikes were conducted by the police, 123 members were arrested, charges were mostly for first-degree murder, attempted murder, gangsterism or drug trafficking. The police seized $5 million in cash, dozens of kilograms of cocaine, marijuana and hashish, and thousands of pills. The operation could, in the future lead up to the closing of 22 unsolved murders. Operation SharQc involved a full-patch member of the gang turning informant, a very rare occurrence in Quebec.
In September 2006, after an 18 month Investigation conducted by numerous law enforcement agencies, 500 officers and 21 tactical teams raided property connected to the Hells Angels chapters in Ontario. At least 27 members were arrested of which 15 were members of the Hells Angels. Property seized was worth more than 1 million dollars and included $470,000 in cash, $300,000 in vehicles and $140,000 in motorcycles. During the raids, drugs such as cocaine and ecstasy were seized; the total street value of drugs seized was more than 3 million dollars.
In April 2007, after another 18 month investigation, 32 Club Houses were raided in Ontario, New Brunswick and British Columbia. The Hells Angels Clubhouse on 498 Eastern Avenue in Toronto was raided by the Biker Enforcement Unit of the OPP and members of the Toronto Police Service on April 4, 2007, at least 15 members of the Hells Angels were detained and charged with drug and weapons offenses at the Eastern Avenue Clubhouse raid. According to police, Project Develop seized some 500 litres of GHB worth an estimated $996,000, nine kilograms of cocaine, two kilograms of hashish and oxycodone and Viagra pills. Police also seized $21,000 worth of cash. Project Develop also seized 67 rifles, five handguns, three pairs of brass knuckles and a police baton.
In late 2004 to 2005 the culmination of investigations into the actions of the motorcycle club led to charges against 18 people including members of the Hells Angels and other associates of the gang.
In July 2003, a man offered to give police information. He became the police agent around whom much of the E-Pandora investigation ensued. Charges arose from project E-Pandora, an extensive police investigation, into the alleged criminal activities of the East End Charter of the Hells Angels (the "EEHA"). The evidence in this case included intercepted private communications including telephone and audio recordings, physical surveillance, and expert evidence. The case would eventually be dubbed the trial of R. v. Giles and see 3 charged individuals appear before the Supreme Court of British Columbia (SCBC). 72 appearances would span from 14 May, 2007 until 20 February, 2008 and, by order of Madam Justice MacKenzie, include a publication ban on related trials.
On March 27, 2008, the SCBC Justice MacKenzie ruled against prosecutors who had attempted to convict a Hells Angels member of possession for the benefit of a criminal organization. Although two associates of the Hells Angels, David Roger Revell, 43, and Richard Andrew Rempel, 24, were convicted of possession for the purpose of trafficking, Justice MacKenzie concluded that with the acquittal of the only Hells Angel member being tried, David Francis Giles, on a charge of possession of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking, a second charge against him (count two) of possessing it for the benefit of a criminal organization had to fail as well. In summary, Revell and Rempel were found guilty but Giles was found not guilty on either count. Also, Revell and Rempel were found not guilty on the charge of possession of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking.
In her acquittal of Giles, Justice MacKenzie said she found the evidence against him was "weak" and intercepted communications were "unreliable" because they were difficult to hear. She further stated that the Crown prosecutors had failed to demonstrate beyond a reasonable doubt the group was working to the "benefit of, at the direction of or in association with a criminal organization, to wit: the East End charter of the Hells Angels".
The Hells Angels' expansion into Manitoba began with a relationship with Los Bravos, a local motorcycle club. In 2000 Los Bravos were "patched over," becoming a full-fledged Hells Angels chapter. The following investigations over the last two years have been executed with the following charges.
On February 15, 2006 the Manitoba Integrated Organized Crime Task Force, along with over 150 police officers from the RCMP, Winnipeg Police Service and Brandon Police Service, made numerous arrests and conducted searches as part of the investigation of Project Defense. Thirteen people were indicted on a variety of charges, including drug trafficking, extortion, proceeds of crime, and organized crime related offences. Only 3 were members of the Hells Angels.
Project Defense was initiated in November 2004 and focused on high level members of drug trafficking cells in the province of Manitoba, including members of the Manitoba Hells Angels. During the investigation police made numerous seizures that totaled in excess of seven kilograms of cocaine and three kilograms of methamphetamine from drug traffickers within the Manitoba Hells Angels organization and other drug trafficking cells. Arrest warrants were issued for thirteen individuals and 12 search warrants were authorized for locations in Winnipeg and area.
This long-term covert investigation was initiated by the Manitoba Integrated Organized Crime Task Force, which was established in the spring of 2004 when an Agreement was signed between the Winnipeg Police Service, the RCMP, the Brandon Police Service and the Province of Manitoba. The mandate of the task force was to disrupt and dismantle organized crime in the province of Manitoba.
On December 12, 2007 Project Drill came to an end, with Winnipeg Police raiding the Hells Angels clubhouse on Scotia Street. Project Drill started the previous evening with arrests in Thompson and continued throughout the night and early morning in Winnipeg and St. Pierre-Jolys. During the course of Project Drill, police seized vehicles, approximately $70,000 cash, firearms, marijuana, Hells Angel related documents/property and other offence related property. As of December 12, 14 people were in custody and four were still being sought.
Police said it was the second time the chapter president was the target in a police sting since the gang set up shop in the city in 2001. Hells Angels prospect member Al LeBras was also arrested at his Barber Street home in Wednesday's raids.
The recently amended Criminal Property Forfeiture Act gives the province the power to seize the proceeds of crime. Police have exercised similar authority against Hells Angels members in other Canadian cities.
On December 2, 2009 Project Divide culminated with 26 arrests, and 8 arrest warrants still outstanding after the year long investigation. The investigation and arrests targeted alleged drug-trafficking and related activities of the Zig Zag Crew - a puppet club of the Hells Angels Winnipeg chapter.
Other joint investigations include:
A gang war over drugs and turf between the Hells Angels and the Bandidos, known as the "Great Nordic Biker War", raged from 1994 until 1997 and ran across Norway, Sweden, Denmark and even parts of Finland and Estonia. By the end of the war, machine guns, hand grenades, rocket launchers and car bombs had been used as weapons, resulting in 11 murders, 74 attempted murders, and 96 wounded members of the involved motorcycle clubs. This led to fierce response from law enforcement and legislators, primarily in Denmark. A law was passed that banned motorcycle clubs from owning or renting property for their club activities. The law has subsequently been repealed on constitutional grounds.
In 2007, a Hells Angels-supported gang named Altid Klar-81 ("Altid Klar" is Danish for "Always Ready" and 81 is synonymous with the letters HA) was formed in Denmark to combat immigrant street gangs in a feud over the lucrative illegal hash market. AK81 has been recruiting much quicker than the mainstream Hells Angels as members are not required to own a motorcycle or wear a patch, and racial tensions are running high in parts of Denmark. On August 14, 2008, Osman Nuri Dogan, a 19-year-old ethnic Turk, was shot and killed by an AK81 member in Tingbjerg. Later that year, on October 8, there was a shoot-out between AK81 members and a group of immigrants in Nørrebro, Copenhagen, during which one man was injured.
The Hells Angels control much of the drug trade in the Netherlands, and are also involved in prostitution. The Dutch police have stated that the Hells Angels smuggle cocaine into the country through terrorist organizations and drug cartels in Curaçao and Colombia, and also deal in ecstasy and illegal firearms.
In October 2005, the Dutch police raided Hells Angels' clubhouses in Amsterdam, Haarlem, IJmuiden, Harlingen, Kampen and Rotterdam as well as a number of houses. Belgian police also raided two locations over the border. Police seized a grenade launcher, a flame thrower, hand grenades, 20 hand guns, a machine pistol and €70,000 (US$103 285) in cash. A number of Hells Angels members were later imprisoned on charges of international trafficking of cocaine and ecstasy, the production and distribution of marijuana, money laundering and murder, after an investigation that lasted over a year.
In 2006 two Dutch newspapers reported that the Amsterdam whorehouse Yab Yum had long been controlled by the Dutch Hells Angels, who had taken over after a campaign of threats and blackmailing. The city council of Amsterdam revoked the license of Yab Yum in December 2007. During a subsequent trial the city's attorney repeated these allegations and the brothel's attorney denied them. The brothel was closed in January 2008.
On 18 June 2007, a Hells Angels member fired 6 shots at passers-by who tried to help the member's girlfriend, killing Brendan Keilar and critically wounding two others. On May 12, 2008, Christopher Wayne Hudson pleaded guilty to the murder of Keilar and other offences committed during the shooting.
Members of the Comancheros and Hells Angels were believed to be involved in a clash at Sydney Airport on Sunday, March 22, 2009. The clash resulted in one man, Hells Angels associate Anthony Zervas, being beaten to death and police estimated as many as 15 men were involved in the violence. Police documents detail the brawl as a result of a Comanchero gang member and a Hells Angel being on the same flight from Melbourne. Four suspects were arrested as a result of the altercation. As a result of heightening violence, New South Wales Premier Nathan Rees announced the state police anti-gang squad would be boosted to 125 members from 50.
On the night of March 29, 2009, Hells Angels member Peter Zervas, the brother of the man killed during the Sydney Airport Brawl a week earlier, was shot and injured as he left his car outside his home.
In March 2006, a group of Hells Angels raided a Bandidos clubhouse in Stuhr where they assaulted and robbed five Bandidos members. Three were given jail sentences and another eleven were handed down suspended sentences at the trial which took place in Hannover on December 16, 2008.
On June 11 2008, two Bandidos members were convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of a Hells Angels member in Ibbenbüren. Reports say they drove to his Harley-Davidson shop and shot him there on May 23, 2007. After the first day of a related lawsuit on December 17, 2007, riots between the two gangs and the police were reported.
Spanish police carried out a number of raids against the club on April 21, 2009, arresting 22 members in Barcelona, Valencia, Málaga, Madrid and Las Palmas. Two of them were members of the club's Italian chapters. The Hells Angels arrested were charged with drugs and weapons trafficking, and extortion. Law enforcement seized military-style weapons and ammunition, bulletproof vests, a kilo of cocaine, neo-Nazi literature and €200,000 in cash during the searches of 30 properties. One suspect also attempted to use a firearm against police officers as he was being arrested. It was part of an investigation into the club, known as Valkiria, which began in October 2007 and also led to eight arrests in December 2007. Prior to this, the only operation against the club in Spain took place in March 1996.
In August 2007 a Hells Angels member, Gerry Tobin, was shot dead on the M40 motorway by members of a rival motorcycle gang, the Outlaws. Those responsible received life sentences in November 2008. Tobin was returning home to London, where he worked as a Harley service manager, from the Bulldog Bash.
In January 2008, there was a brawl between up to 30 Hells Angels and Outlaws at Birmingham International Airport. Police recovered various weapons including Knuckledusters, hammers and a meat cleaver. Seven Outlaw members and five Hells Angels faced trial as a result.
Perhaps the most notorious and colorful account of the Hells Angels was written by Gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson. Published in 1966, Hell's Angels: The Strange and Terrible Saga of the Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs, was expanded from an original 1965 article for The Nation after he spent a year in close quarters with group.