28 November 2005

Hell's gates open for chosen few

Sunday Life

By Ciaran McGuigan
27 November 2005

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A BELFAST biker club is set to become the first Irish chapter of the Hells Angels.

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>>Chosen Few - Ireland (no connection to Belfast)

The local group of the Chosen Few Motorcycle Club has become the latest international club to be granted "prospect" status by the world's most notorious biker gang.

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>>MC - BELFAST (site under construction)

It's expected that they will officially become the first Irish members of the Hell's Angels late next year, after their probationary period.

Although the Hell's Angels have been in Britain since the late 1960s, they have never had a presence in either Northern Ireland or the Republic.

Sunday Life tried to contact members of the Chosen Few last week, but was unable to do so.

However, their new "prospect" status was confirmed on both the Chosen Few and the Hell's Angels websites.

The Hell's Angels started as a series of loosely-affiliated motorcycle clubs in California in the late 1940s.

During the late 1950s, the clubs' conventions were laid down into a formal set of rules now followed by hundreds of Hell's Angels clubs or "chapters" around the world.

Hell's Angels clubs in the US, Canada and other countries have been slated by their respective legal authorities for being involved in international organised crime and protection rackets.

Just last month, Dutch police raided 65 locations and arrested 45 members of the Hell's Angels on charges ranging from blackmail and intimidation to trafficking in drugs and weapons.

Among items seized in the Dutch raids were a grenade-launcher, a flame-thrower, hand grenades, 20 handguns, a machine pistol and almost £50,000 in cash.

However, one bike enthusiast laughed off the international bike club's criminal image when he learned they were coming to Belfast.

"The city's rackets are already sewn up by some of the most vicious, well-organised and well-armed criminals in Europe.

"A gang looking for new territory would choose an easier patch," he said.

cmcguigan@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

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