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WORLD

Hells Angels Organized Crime Trial Begins in Spain

January 24, 2023

MADRID (AP) — Prosecutors on Monday sought a 13-year prison sentence for a former leader of the Hells Angels in Europe who is accused of running a chapter of the motorcycle club linked with organized crime on the Spanish island of Mallorca.

German national Frank Hanebuth appeared in court alongside 49 alleged collaborators from numerous countries, at least 34 of whom agreed to a plea deal allowing them to pay fines instead of serving time. Hanebuth didn’t seek a deal.

Some of the defendants were of German, Greek, or British origin, and needed an interpreter to follow the developments, which were conducted in Spanish. Three of the accused took part via video call from Germany.

Spanish prosecutors have charged Hanebuth with membership in a criminal organization, money laundering and illegal possession of firearms. They are also asking the judge overseeing the trial to fine him $4.5 million (€4.2 million) for the money laundering charge.

Leader of a Hells Angels gang, German national Frank Hanebuth, front row, left, sits in the dock with others at the National Court in San Fernando de Henares, just outside Madrid, Spain, Monday, Jan. 23, 2023. (Zipi Aragon, Pool photo via AP)

In addition to belonging to a criminal organization, other defendants have been charged with running a prostitution ring and drug trafficking, and face up to 38 years in prison.

The Hells Angels conducted illegal activities in Mallorca from 2009 to 2013 under Hanebuth’s leadership, according to the criminal indictment. Hanebuth appointed members who then carried out crimes including extortion, pimping, acquiring illegal firearms and robbery in popular tourist spots, prosecutors said.

They also moved into real estate on Mallorca and nearby island Ibiza, prosecutors said. The accused didn’t limit themselves to riding Harley-Davidsons: One of Hanebuth’s fellow defendants was cited for driving a Bentley at 125 mph (200 kph) in a 75-mph (120-kph) speed zone.

The Hells Angels in Europe are believed to have chosen Mallorca for their illegal activities because of the high presence of foreign residents and the existence of other money laundering and drug trafficking schemes on the island, prosecutors say in the indictment.

The Mallorca chapter of the gang was strongly international, with recruits from as far away as the Dominican Republic and Morocco, according to the indictment.

One of the defendants who took a plea deal was Paul Witworth, a British associate of Hanebuth’s who prosecutors say maintained links with the Adams Family, a notorious U.K. gang also known as The Clerkenwell Crime Syndicate.

Hanebuth also kept up with his German base in Hannover, prosecutors said.

The trial is expected to last several weeks.

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By JENNIFER O’MAHONY Associated Press

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