Shots rang out in Oslo once again this week, after a violent confrontation outside motorcycle club Bandidos’ clubhouse in the Etterstad district. Police in Norway and throughout Europe worry that motorcycle clubs are boosting and diversifying their criminal activity.
Fraud and extortion, murder and torture, weapons smuggling and human trafficking, drug dealing and robbery are among the crimes tied to motorcycle club members, reported newspaper Aftenposten on Tuesday. The European police agency Europol claims criminal activity has risen quickly in recent years, especially in eastern Europe.
Four international motorcycle clubs are active in Norway: Hells Angels, Bandidos, Outlaws and Coffin Cheaters, according to Aftenposten. Their membership statistics are alarming: Hells Angels has 113 registered members, of whom 85 have criminal convictions. Bandidos has 48 registered members in Norway, of whom 30 have convictions.
On Sunday, police armed themselves when they were called out to deal with a brawl outside the Bandidos club house at Etterstad. Police ended up charging five persons and arresting three others after shots were fired and one person was beaten with a club.
There are constant fears of territorial battles among the clubs. Drugs and extortion reportedly continue to be the main areas of criminal activity among the Norwegian chapters, but concerns are rising that the clubs are getting better at disguising other crimes.
The clubs are also expanding into more cities in Norway and building up supporter groups that are allowed to attend parties but don’t become members. In Bergen, police are worried about the expansion and the possibility of territorial battles. Hells Angels has a presence in Bergen, “and we know that Outlaws and Bandidos have looked for locations in the Bergen area,” Norvald Visnes of the Bergen police told newspaper Bergens Tidende.
Sunday’s shooting episode in Oslo worries Oslo police, too, “but we so far have no reason to believe it was anything more than an isolated incident involving unwelcome guests, and not the beginning of a motorcycle club war,” Einar Aas, head of the organized crime unit for the Oslo Police District, told Aftenposten.
Views and News staff