German police have stepped up the pressure on biker gangs with a large-scale raid in the capital, Berlin, and other regions. The gangs are suspected of involvement in violence, drug dealing and other criminal activities.
A police spokesman said seven people had been arrested Thursday morning in the operation, during which some 1,000 police officers searched more than 70 apartments and buildings used by the gangs. Drug-sniffing dogs were used in the raids.
The raids were part of an investigation into the organized drug trade and gang criminality. Other German states have also seen police raids on biker groups in the past few days.
One focus of the raids was the Bandidos del Este biker club in the town of Hennigsdorf in the state of Brandenburg, outside Berlin. The president of the club, Thorsten S., is a former policeman.
The police spokesman was unable to say if an arrest warrant has been issued for the president.
At the end of May, police in Berlin and Brandenburg carried out raids on the group Hells Angels, a rival gang to the Bandidos. The Hells Angels chapter has since been banned in Berlin.
On Tuesday, a police raid on a Hells Angels clubhouse in the capital of Brandenburg, Potsdam, uncovered several weapons, including a machete, flick knives and pepper spray. It was the second raid in the past few days.
Further raids took place in Cologne, Dusseldorf, Krefeld, Solingen and Willich, all in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW).
The gangs have come under increased police surveillance since a mass brawl in the NRW city of Mönchengladbach four and a half months ago, in which a number of people were injured.
Editor's note: Deutsche Welle is bound by German law and the German press code, which stresses the importance of protecting the privacy of suspected criminals or victims and obliges us to refrain from revealing full names in such cases.
tj/ncy (dapd, dpa)