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Hells Angels biker gang trial begins in Spain

The Story: The trial of 49 members of a criminal gang suspected of being linked to the Hells Angels began in a packed session of the Spanish High Court on Monday. This comes nearly a decade after police clamped down on the group’s activities in the resort island of Mallorca. The defendants face a range of criminal charges including racketeering, money laundering, drug trafficking, pimping and illegal possession of a firearm. Most of the defendants arrived at the courthouse on foot or in taxis – there was no indication that the gang was known for their distinctive heavy cruiser motorcycles. Prosecutors are asking for a maximum sentence of 13 years in prison and a $4.56 million fine for alleged former boss and German national Frank Hanebuth. He rose through the ranks of the Hells Angels in the German city of Hannover before allegedly leading a crime gang in Mallorca. Hanebuth appeared in court clean-shaven, with a goatee and a jacket on his forearm that concealed tribal tattoos. The Hells Angels Motorcycle Club was founded in 1948 in the United States. It has approximately 5,000 members in approximately 350 branches (called “chapters”) around the world. Spanish authorities say the Mallorca chapter was formed in 2009 and is made up mainly of German and Turkish members. A special prosecutor said the gang was lured to Mallorca for a variety of reasons, including the presence of brothels and opportunities for money laundering and drug trafficking. The trial is scheduled to last two weeks but could be extended before a verdict is delivered.