Outlaw Bikers in Finland 1997-2005

By Peter

On September 25, 1997, Hells Angels mc Finland and Bandidos mc Finland declared an end to what became known as "The Great Northern Biker War". In Finland the end of hostilities were confirmed on October 14, when members of both clubs had pictures taken of them together, in front of the Finnish Parliament in Helsinki.

The following is about what happened to the clubs and individuals, until the beginning of 2006. It will be about Cannonball mc Finland, Hells Angels mc Finland, Bandidos mc Finland, and some other mc-clubs whose activities brought them into conflict with the law.

When criminal Outlaw Bikers gets arrested, it is often drug related. In Finland members of other mc-clubs than Bandidos, Cannonball and Hells Angels, have over the years ended up in prison for such crimes.

In 1996 a member of Niska mc got two years and two months, for drug related crimes. In the same case a member of 666 mc Harmageddon got two years and 11 months.

In 2003 it was Overnuke mc's turn to get busted. 11 members got sentences from four to 17 months for possession of drugs and illegal weapons.

These mc-clubs has since then stayed out of the news, and supposedly out of trouble. On the other hand, the following mc-club would have its fair share of headlines over the years.

Cannonball mc Finland

Cannonball mc Finland would from 1997 to 1999 be several times in the news, its members ending up in prison, for everything from drug smuggling to extortion. Until the summer 1996, Cannonball mc had been a supporter club for Hells Angels mc Finland, but had then decided to go their own way. A year later they had grown from one chapter, the Helsinki chapter, to three more: Lahti, Turku, and Kouvola.

In 1997, July 17, Ari Petteri Ronkainen from the Helsinki chapter was sentenced four and a half year, for smuggling 20 kg of hash from Spain to Finland.

By the end of 1997, there were a lot of speculations in the media about the future of Cannonball mc Finland. When it came to members, the club was the biggest 1% club in Finland. So the police didn't exactly jump with joy, when Cannonball mc exchanged friendship badges with the Swedish mc-club, Brödraskabet (Brotherhood) mc. Brödraskabet mc was made up of hardcore criminals doing time, in prison they called themselves the Wolfpack, and once back on the street, Brödraskabet mc would be there for the members. The police was worried that the two mc-clubs would unite and create the biggest Outlaw Biker club in Scandinavia. In the end nothing happened, and it might have something to do with that Brödraskabet mc stopped being a mc-club, and started to use the name Wolfpack, both inside and outside the prisons.

During the next two years, members of Cannonball mc Finland would on three occasions be in conflict with the law. Extortion and arson would be the name of the game.

On October 19, 1998, of three members and one associate of Cannonball's Lahti chapter, two got two years and four months, and two got two years and two months for extortion.

During the autumn a year later, 1999, Cannonball's Lahti chapter would resign from the club and create Rogues Gallery (see picture below). Dressed as bikers, with the name and a patch on a leather vest, organized with a hierarchy as in a mc-club, they would in a very short time make a name for themselves.

On April 31, 1999, three members of the Helsinki chapter got each four years, two years, and one and a half year, once more in a case of extortion.

On December 3, 1999, two members of the Kouvola chapter got sentenced for attempted arson of a restaurant in Kouvola. One got three years and eight months, the other got two years and six months. The reason for the arson attempt was because they were not allowed into the restaurant.

Since then, Cannonball mc Finland members have managed to stay out of trouble. But the police still regard Cannonball as part of the "Big Three", Bandidos mc Finland and Hells Angels mc Finland being the two other, and still regard Cannonball mc as a criminal organization.

By the end of 2005 Cannonball mc Finland have three chapters. Helsinki, Turku and the newest, Lohja. The Kouvola chapter fell apart as chapters now and then does.

Hells Angels mc Finland

For Hells Angels mc Finland the following years would be very quiet, and the public would have to wait three years before Hells Angels were in the news again.

During the last weekend in August 2000, Hells Angels mc Finland were host for the Hells Angels World Run. Once a year Hells Angels mc have a World Run, in a different country each time, where members from all over the world shows up.

Now there was a chance to taste traditional Finnish cuisine, check out a real sauna, see the land of the thousands lakes, if the members could get into Finland. The Finnish police and Customs police checked every member arriving to the country, and if the member had a criminal record dating back 20 years, he was turned away at the border and denied entry into Finland. Around 70 members were denied entry, another 80 members turned around of their own free will, when they saw their criminal records were being checked.

In the end, the 600 to 650 members which participated in the World Run had a good time, according to a Hells Angels mc Finland's spokesman.

Next time Hells Angels mc Finland made news, was when the police in January 2003, searched through the Kajaani chapter’s clubhouse, because members were under suspicion of drug smuggling. Two members were arrested, and in May 2003, one got four and a half years, and the other two years.

By 2005 the Kajaani chapter had moved to Oulu, and once more were in conflict with the law. In November 2005, four members got suspended sentences and fines, for possession of drugs and guns, and for beating up a tax official and an ex-prospect member.

As of writing Hells Angels mc Finland has four chapters: Helsinki, the original chapter; Nomads, located in Helsinki; Oulu, the Kajaani chapter changed name after moving to Oulu; Carelia, the newest chapter, located in Lappeenranta in south east Finland.

On January 9, 2006, Finnish television had a program about Hells Angels mc Finland, called "Enkeleitä vai piruja?" (Angels or Devils?).In the program it was shown, that 20 percent of Finnish Hells Angels members have a criminal record, and that 80 percent of Danish Hells Angels members have a criminal record. The Finnish police recognize the difference between Danish and Finnish Hells Angels members criminal records, but still regards Hells Angels mc Finland as a criminal organization, and as such keeps an eye on them.

Bandidos mc Finland

When Bandidos mc and Hells Angels mc made peace in 1997, there was a lot of speculation in the press, as well as among the members themselves, about what would happen now. For a while it was believed the two clubs would unite in one way or another, but that never happened. They would participate in Biker Culture Day, an event arranged by Harley Davidson clubs. They would drive through Helsinki together, when the driving season started. Some would say it was only pr-stunts, to show the public the war was really over. But when Bandidos mc's secretary passed away from illness in 1998, Hells Angels members participated in his funeral. They had all years ago been members in Overkill mc, before they went their different ways.

One thing which was agreed upon among the two clubs, was that until the end of the century, no new chapters or supporter clubs would be formed.

In 1998 Bandidos mc Finland created Compadres mc Finland, a supporter mc-club. Compadres mc had their chapter in Kotka, a city east of Helsinki.

In January, 1999, members of Compadres mc were arrested by the police, suspected for dealing in stolen goods.

By the beginning of 1999, Bandidos mc Finland had two chapters. The original Downtown chapter in Helsinki, and the Lakeside chapter in Järvenpää.

During the spring and summer of 1999, the club would almost fall apart. Over a period of time, the club had split into two camps. You were either for or against the way the club president, Marko Hirsma, ruled the club. It was his way, or you were out of the club, and you would be lucky if you got away with just one black eye. Marko Hirsma's very irrational behaviour, would later be believed to be the result of a fractured skull, which he got during a fight in prison, and which he waited too long time to get treated.

While attending a Bandidos world meeting in the USA, he was thrown out of the club, after he had been criticising how the club was run in Europe.

Marko Hirsma was now without a mc-club. So he started a new club. He named it Undertakers mc Finland, just like the club he had started back in the 90'es. He still wanted to be part of a big international 1% mc-club, so he got in touch with Outlaws mc. By the year 2000, a lot of mc-clubs had a site on the internet, also Undertakers mc Finland. The site's guestbook became a place for people, who for one reason or another didn't see eye to eye with Bandidos mc.

For a moment it was believed that it was the end of Bandidos in Finland. But after a cleanup in the club, the Lakeside chapter and Compadres mc Kotka was closed down, members who had been thrown out of the club were asked if they would like to come back, a new president was found for the Downtown chapter, a new club spirit took shape.

But just because the club had a big change in members, that didn't mean the members stopped being Bandidos.

In October, 1999, a member and a hang-around were involved in a shootout with a member of Rogues Gallery in Lahti, who got wounded in his leg.

In December, 1999, two members were sentenced for extortion. One got a year and three months. The other got a suspended sentence of five months.

January 18, 2000, would be a bad day for Bandidos mc Finland. Members of Bandidos mc Finland were on trial in Lahti, for the shooting incident back in October, 1999. Other members of the club, plus members of their supporter club, Black Rhinos mc, were present. During the lunch break they went to eat in a local restaurant. A car pulls up. Two men got out, enter the restaurant and shoot the place up. Björn Isaksson, Downtown chapter president, and Sakke Pirra, member of Downtown, are killed. Juha Jalonen, member of Black Rhinos is killed. Three other are wounded, and it could have ended worse if it wasn't because some were wearing bullet proof vests.

Right away the police arrested several members of Rogues Gallery, including the ones involved in the massacre. From the beginning it was believed the massacre was revenge for the shooting in October, 1999. When all this was taking place, it was not generally known that it was Rogues Gallery which was involved. Everyone thought Cannonball mc was behind the attack. The press was also full of articles, speculating about if a new Biker War was about to begin. So at the end of January, the new president of Bandidos mc Finland and the president of Cannonball mc Finland shook hands in public, to show the world that there were no problems between their clubs.

Also at the end of January, the Bandidos members whose trial was interrupted received their sentence, for shooting and wounding the Rogues Gallery member. Kai Tapio Blom got two and six months. Andrei Antoni Jensko got two years and seven months. The trial was kept under very tight security.

In May, 2000, the trial against Pertti Hämäläinen, Sami Koivula, and Eikka Lehtosaari started. They were accused of the Lahti massacre. The trial was held in a bomb shelter, as a way of improving the security. This time the police took no chances.

After a long trial, in April, 2001, the three accused all got life sentences. Rogues Gallery's reputation as a merciless criminal gang was now made, and in the future they would live up to it through their criminal activities, inside as well as outside the prisons.

If anybody thought that the problems between Bandidos mc and Marko Hirsma were over, they were wrong. By a strange coincidence Marko Hirsma was living with his wife and their daughter, in the very same neighbourhood where Bandidos had their clubhouse.

In October, 2000, somebody fired several shots at the front of the house where Marko Hirsma was living. The case ended unsolved.

In November, 2000, the president of Bandidos mc got three months in prison for fraud. It was a case of a pair of missing motorcycles. Marko Hirsma was in the USA in 1999, where he ended up getting kicked out of the club. When he returned to Finland the locks to the clubhouse had been changed and his bikes were gone. Bandidos mc has a rule, that when one joins the club the bike belongs to the club, not to the owner. That is a way for the member to show his loyalty and dedication to the club. So if a member is kicked out of the club, if he is not fast enough, he can say goodbye to his bike. In this case the bikes were owned on paper by Marko Hirsma's wife, so she of course went to the police. The bikes were never found, or any parts for that matter. The president of Bandidos was also sentenced to pay 210 000 marks to Marko Hirsma's wife.

In August, 2001, Marko Hirsma was again in the news. He was on trial for extortion. But even before the trial could start, it was moved to another date, because a witness and the victim of the extortion didn't turn up for the trial.

A month later, in September, the court gave it another try. Once more the trial was moved to another date, November 12, 2001. By then it wouldn't matter anymore, because Marko Hirsma would be dead.

On October 20, 2001, Marko Hirsma was shot and killed (click for picture). He was on his way to his car when Kai Tapio Blom and Andrei Antoni Jensko, just released from prison, approached him. Guns were drawn, shots were fired, and Marko Hirsma was killed. Kai Blom and Andrei Jensko were arrested later the same day. On March 11, 2002, they were sentenced to life for murder.

During the trial two versions of what took place were revealed. The one according to the prosecutor was that Blom and Jensko had planned to kill Marko Hirsma, and that was also the reason for the life sentences. Blom and Jensko didn't deny they approached Marko Hirsma, but they were not out to kill him. According to them they were on their way to their clubhouse, when they saw Marko Hirsma on the way to his car. Because there was very bad blood between them, they thought it would be a good opportunity to teach Marko Hirsma a lesson. When Marko Hirsma sees them, he draws a gun and starts to shoot, and they shoot back in self-defence.

Marko Hirsma was the founder of Bandidos mc Finland. The club was his creation, and the club would in the end be his destiny.

Kai Blom was a member of the club from the very beginning, and is at the present the only one left of the originals. He is the last of the "Axemen".

Whether Bandidos mc Finland liked it or not, having been two years, 2000 and 2001, involved in deadly incidents, the police was now keeping an extra eye on them. When the Helsinki chapter celebrated their anniversary every August, the police would be at the harbour checking visitors arriving from all over Europe. The police would also keep an eye on the people, coming and going at the party.

The Helsinki chapter also had to get used to the occasional visit by the police, when they were under suspicion of drug dealing, possession of stolen goods, and extortion.

By 2004 Bandidos mc Finland had two more chapters, Tampere and Harjavalta, and Harjavalta would be in the news right away.

In February, 2004, four members of what used to be No Speed Limit mc, now Bandios mc Harjavalta, received sentences of seven months to one year, for possession of stolen goods and running an illegal bar.

In June, 2004, it was again Bandidos mc Helsinki members turn to be in the news. Markku Räisänen got eight years and six months, and Keijo Vuohela got six years and six months, for possession of drugs.

But it would have to wait until 2005 before the big headlines came out again. On June 30, 2005, a member of Rogues Gallery and Bats, Bats being another gang who is dressed as bikers but are not into bikes, were shot and wounded. They were participating in a wedding party for a Bats member, in a part of Helsinki not far away from Bandidos' clubhouse. They were shot and wounded by Bandidos Helsinki chapter president, Pentti Tapio Haapanen, and Helsinki chapter vice president Harri Tapio Reinikainen. They were arrested later the same day and would later in December get sentences of two years and two months for Pentti Tapio Haapanen, and four years and three months for Harri Tapio Reinikainen, for serious bodily harm and weapon possession.

Again there were two versions of what happened. The prosecutor was sure it was planned and that it was revenge for the Lahti massacre. Why else would they be armed and using bullet proof vests? The Bandidos members said in their defence it was all a coincidence. They had been to a tattoo shop the club has in the same neighbourhood, to get the shops money, when on their way back to the clubhouse they bump into the Rogues Gallery member. He raises his arm, and thinking they are under threat they pull out their guns and start to fire warning shots, according to them. The use of bullet proof vest and carrying guns was a precaution, because as a member of Bandidos mc one never knows what might happen, again according to them.

Once more the press was full of articles speculation about one thing or another. Was a new war was about to begin? Did the incident happen because the Helsinki chapter's ten years anniversary was just around the corner? Had they been told by the European National chapter, to take care of business?

At the end of August, 2005, the Helsinki chapter celebrated their ten years anniversary with plenty of fireworks, and plenty of police surveillance.

In September, 2005, Markku Tapani Lahtonen, a member of X-Team, a supporter group of Bandidos mc, got 11 years for murder. The case was solved by a wire planted in their clubhouse, which recorded conversations which implicated Markku Tapani Lahtonen.

At the moment Bandidos mc Finland has three chapters: Helsinki Downtown, Tampere, and Harjavalta. Official supporter group is the X-Team, of which there are also three: Helsinki, Tampere, and Harjavalta. Official supporter mc-club is Diablos mc Finland, with two chapters in Lohja and Nokia.

It would be nice if it was possible to write "The End", and that would be it. But motorcycle clubs whose members on and off gets into conflict with the law, are here to stay, and won't go away. For years there has been talk about banning the clubs, banning the club clothes which members are wearing, but what good would that do. The Finnish police are now counting approximately 80 organised criminal groups/gangs/networks around in Finland, so they would still have enough to do even if certain motorcycle clubs, or their member's club clothes, were banned.

As an example to show that this is a never ending story, in the beginning of March, 2006, when this story was put together, Bandidos mc Finland's Harjavalta and Tampere clubhouses were searched by the police, being suspected of extortion.

Source: Finnish newspapers and magazines 1997-2006.

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