Police Say International Biker Gangs Establishing Local Membership
The motorcycle gang Hells Angels held a party in Tallinn last Saturday that climaxed with a fight that broke out between a night club security guard and two Finnish citizens who were later brought to trial and “essentially thrown out of the country,” as one law enforcement officer put it.
Having caused a raucus at the night club, three Hells Angels members had called their friends for help, but police - who had been keeping an eye on their festivities - were standing by and preempted a further conflict, reported ETV.
Police say the otherwise peaceful party, attended by Hells Angels members from six countries, is just one sign that motorcycle gangs are expanding to Estonia. A local biker club has been courting the Hells Angels to get full membership.
Another local club has already gained membership and established a new headquarters for a second international organization, Bandidos, which Finnish law enforcement has dubbed the biggest organized crime ring in their country.
The two groups - Hells Angels and Bandidos - cannot be allowed to come together. “Violence is relatively probable,” said Elmar Vaher, who heads the North Prefecture of the police. He recalled the Great Nordic Biker War in the 1990s, in which 11 were killed, 96 injured, and weapons such as AK-47s were used.
"There is a principle that commiting a common crime can tie people more closely to one another than anything else," said Vaher.
Authorities now fear new cases of prostitution and drug trafficking. Although police have searched one of these local biker clubs on several occasions, and discovered illegal drugs in one instance, the Estonian biker organizations cannot yet be labeled as criminal, they say.
Estonian police have been watching the activities of biker gangs since 2005, when Finnish colleagues identified a problem.
"Along with the public club activities, there are more shady dealings as well," said Vaher. "Their handwriting is generally clever. They want to show that they mean well - international associates have built kindergartens [...] But there are also hidden crimes, mainly drugs, prostitution, and serious financial crimes."
While Vaher submitted that not every person with a motorcycle and a leather jacket can be considered a criminal, he said some markings - such as the Hells Angels's “1%” insignia - are a clear statement of endorsing criminal activity.
Upon inquiry, however, the Estonian biker club associated with Hell Angels defended itself, saying that it is just a group of hobbyists, that every societal demographic has crime, and that criminal activity - indeed - is not a prerequisite for membership.