Mafia law snares Hells Angels bikers

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A Norwegian court has convicted eight individuals tied to the Hells Angels motorcycle club on narcotics charges, using, for the first time, Norway’s so-called “mafia paragraph” in the law. It went on the books in 2003 as a means of fighting organized crime.

The club itself wasn’t charged in the case that ran for six weeks last winter in a courtroom in the northern Norwegian city of Tromsø.  The court found this week, though, that there was “no doubt” that the eight defendants’ membership in or relationship to the Hells Angels club had considerable impact on how their criminal acts involving narcotics were planned and organized.

Club hierarchy played key role
Newspaper Aftenposten reported that the court found the club to have a structure and a hierarchy that consists of a president, enlisted members, “prospects” and “hangarounds.” The hierarchy in turn determines who carries out specific tasks and who makes decisions within the club.

The court determined that the main defendant, 50-year-old Ove Jørgensen Høyland, is president of the Hells Angels club in Oslo and that he, together with another member, has been the spokesman for Hells Angels on a national basis. Høyland had denied that in court in himself, reducing his own role in the club to that of a member with no leadership position.

Høyland also had denied having anything to do with the delivery of 13 kilos of amphetamines and at least 21 kilos of hash to Northern Norway. The trial of Høyland and seven other defendants was conducted in Tromsø because of seizures made in Troms County and because Tromsø was believed to be a key destination point.

Relatively harsh jail terms
The ruling from Tromsø Tingrett also hinged on Hells Angels operations in Oslo, with the court calling the clubhouse on Strømsveien in Oslo a “central meeting place” when the defendants planned their criminal activities. Høyland, the court found, was always present.

The court ruled that Høyland and the 41-year-old leader of the club’s Tromsø chapter had the two leading roles. Høyland was sentenced to nine years in prison, the unnamed 41-year-old to seven-and-a-half years. The other six defendants, all of whom were tied to Hells Angels, were sentenced to between just over two and 10 years.

The sentences are harsh by Norwegian standards and Høyland also faced seizure of his property unless he can prove it was obtained by legal means. He hasn’t managed to do that and two of his Harley Davidsons were seized, leaving the Hells Angels veteran without a motorcycle.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund

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