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Spanish police raid Majorca's German mafia

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Among the arrested was Frank Armin Hanebuth, president of the Hannover chapter of the Hells Angels and a major player for the club in Europe. Screen grab: YouTube
11:46 CEST+02:00
Spanish police on Tuesday raided the Majorcan chapter of the Hells Angels Motorbike Club in what was described as a major blow to the island's powerful German mafia.

Some 200 police and Civil Guard officers made 25 arrests in 31 raids in an operation directed by Spain's National High Court.

The raids led to the arrest of the most important Hells Angels figures in Europe, 49-year-old German Frank Armin Hanebuth.

Hanebuth — considered by German police to be one of that country's most dangerous men according to Focus news magazine— was shacked up in a €2.5 million ($3.3 million) villa in Lloret de Vistalegre when he was taken into custody.

Police said he controlled the group's activities from the expensive home. 

The Hells Angels planned to launder "a significant quantity" of money from its activities in Germany and Turkey in the construction of a Formula One race track in Mallorca, police said in a statement.

Operation Casablanca targeted alleged drug trafficking, extortion, money laundering, and running of prostitution rings by the Majorca chapter of the notorious motorbike club.

Most of the club's members arrived on the island from Germany after authorities in that country cracked down on the group in 2009.

The group raised money mainly by forcing women into prostitution across Germany and extorting cash from people they threatened to harm if they were not paid.

"Victims felt very intimidated by the violent and aggressive nature of the extortionists, some of whom were martial arts experts," police said in a statement.

"Aside from making threats in person, members of the group sent email messages to the families of victims with pictures taken as they went about their daily lives in other European countries like Germany or Holland," the statement added.

As part of their prostitution business on the island, the Majorca Hells Angels are also said to have systematically performed cosmetic surgery on prostitutes.

This was done "to make the product more attractive", according to a report in Spain's ABC newspaper on Wednesday.   

The Youssafi brothers apparently kept a tight rein on these operations, only allowing the prostitutes a day off once they had earned €1,000.

Police seized 10 cars, four motorcycles and around €50,000 as well as arms, jewellery, boats and cocaine and marijuana during the operation.

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One local police officer was also nabbed as an informer in raids that capped off a two-year investigation, local newspaper Diario de Mallorca reported on Wednesday.

Several members of the Majorca chapter of the Hells Angles arrested on Tuesday were also wanted for kidnapping and homicide in Germany.

The Hells Angels Motorcycle Club have their origins in California after the Second World War.

They are thought to have from 2,000 to 2,500 members worldwide.

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