The trial of organized crime Hells Angels begins in Spain

MADRID — Prosecutors on Monday sought a 13-year prison sentence for a former leader of Europe’s Hells Angels, who is accused of running a motorcycle club affiliate linked to organized crime on the Spanish island of Majorca.

German national Frank Hanebuth appeared in court along with 49 alleged associates from numerous countries, at least 34 of whom agreed to a plea deal that allowed them to pay fines instead of serving time. Hanebuth wasn’t looking for a deal.

Some of the defendants were of German, Greek or British descent and needed an interpreter to follow the developments, which were conducted in Spanish. Three of the suspects participated 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 money laundering.

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

According to the indictment, the Hells Angels conducted illegal activities in Mallorca from 2009 to 2013 under the direction of Hanebuth. Hanebuth appointed members who then committed crimes including racketeering, pimping, acquiring illegal firearms and theft at popular tourist spots, prosecutors said.

They also moved into real estate in Mallorca and the nearby island of Ibiza, prosecutors said. The defendants were not limited to riding Harley-Davidsons: One of Hanebuth’s co-defendants was cited for driving a Bentley at 125 mph (200 km/h) in a 75 mph (120 km/h) speed zone ).

Europe’s Hells Angels allegedly singled out Majorca for its illegal activities due to the large presence of foreign residents and the existence of other money laundering and drug trafficking programs on the island, prosecutors say in the indictment.

The gang’s Mallorcan chapter was strong internationally, with recruits from as far away as the Dominican Republic and Morocco, according to the indictment.

One of the defendants who accepted a plea deal was Paul Witworth, a British associate of Hanebuth who prosecutors allege had ties to the Adams Family, a notorious British gang also known as The Clerkenwell Crime Syndicate.

Hanebuth also kept pace with its German base in Hanover, prosecutors said.

The process is expected to take several weeks.

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An earlier version of this story has been corrected to show that Hanebuth is no longer a leader of the Hells Angels.

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