Hells Angels motorcycle clubs banned in German city

Citing a history of weapons offenses and violence, a German state banned two Frankfurt-based chapters of the Hells Angels on Friday and confiscated their assets.

"These gangs are not in any way made up only of harmless motorbike riders," Hesse state interior minister Boris Rhein said at a televised news conference.

"Many members are known to the police because of violent, drug or weapon-related offences."

The interior ministry said it had the authority to ban clubs when their aims or activities break the law. A recent report from Germany's federal criminal office showed that one in every 10 investigations into organized crime was linked to a criminal gang of motorbike riders, the ministry said.

Rhein said the authorities were closely monitoring the motorcycle gangs in Hesse and had others in their sights. "We have a zero-tolerance strategy," he added.

The Hells Angels were formed in California nearly 60 years ago and have chapters spread around the world. There have been chapters in Germany since 1970.

(Source: Reuters, Reporting by Victoria Bryan; Editing by Michael Roddy)