An RCMP officer stops an Alberta member of the Hells Angels motorcycle gang at a roadblock after he left the White Rock chapter's property in Langley, British Columbia, on July 26, 2008.

AP Photo/Darryl Dyck

Hells Angels Around the World

The Hells Angels philosophy will never be mistaken for mainstream, and yet it's struck a resonance and fascination that's gone global. To date, more than 100 Hells Angels chapters in 29 countries have been sanctioned by the organization.

New Zealand was the first country outside the United States to get an official Hells Angels chapter, in 1961. London became the first European beachhead for the Hells Angels in 1969 when George Harrison, of the rock group The Beatles, invited a couple of San Francisco club members to London. In fact, many musicians have held an affinity for the Hells Angels, and they're often hired as security at concerts.

And yet, news reports from Australia, to Germany, to Scandinavia and Canada relate tales of violence and criminality as the Hells Angels battle with other biker gangs. Usually at issue are turf matters or run-ins with law enforcement over the dealings of more than a few Angels in organized crime activities [source: James].

For instance, the Quebec Biker War in Canada waged between the Hells Angels and a rival group called the Rock Machine, spanned eight years and killed more than 150 people -- including innocent bystanders. In Europe at least, conflicts between Hells Angels and rival biker gangs have in the past escalated to the use of machine guns, grenades, rocket launchers and car bombs.

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