The biker world is a world of symbols. These club emblems – black leather or denim jackets – are the identifying feature of often-criminal motorcycle clubs. Standardised clothing and symbols such as the winged skull of “Hell’s Angels” or the armed “Bandido” proclaim that behind the individual is a community willing to use violence, one that follows its own rules first and not those of the state.
Criminal members of large families of Arab descent, often called “clans”, also want to set the rules and values of life together and see the state as weak. In some of the Ruhr area’s larger cities, they seek to dominate the drug trade.
The Mafia, on the other hand, avoids making a big scene and quietly goes about its criminal business in money-laundering, drugs and red light districts. The Calabrian ‘Ndrangheta has been established in North Rhine-Westphalia since the 1970s.
Thanks to its many large cities, proximity to borders and dense transportation network, North Rhine-Westphalia is an attractive sphere for these criminal groups to operate in. Police and other security authorities face the challenge with surveillance, raids and collaboration.