Almost 80 percent of the members of motorcycle gangs have rap sheets. This comes from a police report, which also states that 30 percent of the ‘outlaw bikers’ known with the police are also in the books as repeat offenders. These criminals have more than ten convictions, the Volkskrant reports.
This is the first time that the law-breaking habits of these motorbike gang members has been established in concrete figures. The Ministry of Justice has been trying to tackle motorclubs for many years. In 2009, it failed to ban the Hells Angels as a club. Since then, more emphasis has been placed on individual offenders.
The motorcycle gangs themselves feel targeted and unfairly criminalized in the media. “It was never said that they’re all choir boys”, says Erik Thomas, lawyer of motor club Satudarah. “I don’t know the research. But it says a lot about the way in which the government means to operate: naming and shaming motor clubs. It would be better to bring cases before the judge. That is the correct forum, not the media.”
Because not all members of motorcycle clubs in the Netherlands are known with the police, it is mainly members of Satudarah, No Surrender and Hells angels who were researched. In total, a file of 601 known criminals were analyzed by the police researchers, in conjunction with the Leiden University. These criminals have a history of theft and abuse, or extortion as well as involvement in the drug world.
Pim Mittenburg presses that the report is meant to increase knowledge. The head of operations in East-Netherlands says: “on the basis of our experience, we expected that the percentage of members with a rap sheet was high, but not this high.”
A small section of the investigated bikers are known by the police because they were suspects while being members of clubs. The majority is registered because officers noted whether the biker was wearing an emblem from a club as he was arrested, Mittenburg says.
Investigators subsequently checked the system to see whether they had a rap sheet. According to Mittenburg, the results give a “reasonably” truthful representation of the reality of motorcycle gangs.
“We are taken off the road by the police for the smallest or lowest things”, says Satudarah head man Santerra Manuhutu. He doesn’t see his club in the image painted by the police. “As long as they don’t have our member lists, they can’t say anything about it. And if you constantly put us in the spotlight, yeah, then things rise to the top by themselves. If you do that to the VVD, for example, skeletons will also fall out of the closet.”
There has been a lot of media attention on motorcycle gangs in the Netherlands recently. Hells Angels rivals Bandidos set up bases in the country in March. No Surrender started operations almost a year ago by former Satudarah-frontman Klaas Otto.
The mayor of Maastricht, Onno Hoes predicted a gang war after the home of the Bandidos-frontman in Limburg was threatened with explosives. Mittenburg disclaims this for now. “There are more incidents than last year. That requires extra alertness. But it is still too early to talk about a gang war.”