Spanish police arrest European head of Hells Angels

Spanish police said Wednesday they have arrested 25 members of the Hells Angels motorcycle gang, including the group's European leader, on the Mediterranean resort island of Mallorca.

The 25 were detained on Tuesday and are suspected of drug smuggling, human trafficking, extortion, money laundering and prostitution-related crimes, police said in a statement.

Among those detained during 30 house raids was the group's alleged European leader, German citizen Frank Hanebuth, a police source told AFP.

Police said he controlled the group's activities from the resort island where he owned a home worth an estimated 2.5 million euros ($3.3 million).

The authorities said the operation dismantled the group's money laundering structure in Spain.

The Hells Angels planned to launder "a significant quantity" of money from its activities in Germany and Turkey in the construction of a Formula One race track in Mallorca, the police statement said.

The group raised money mainly by forcing women into prostitution across Germany and extorting cash from people they threatened to harm if they were not paid.

"Victims felt very intimidated by the violent and aggressive nature of the extortionists, some of whom were martial arts experts," police said in a statement.

"Aside from making threats in person, members of the group sent email messages to the families of victims with pictures taken as they went about their daily lives in other European countries like Germany or Holland," the statement added.

Police seized 10 cars, four motorcycles and around 50,000 euros as well as arms, jewellery, boats and cocaine and marijuana during the operation.

Police in Germany, the Netherlands and Austria, as well as the cross-border agencies Interpol and Europol, helped in the two-year investigation.