Frank Hanebuth at the time of his arrest. | Archive


On July 23, 2013, German Frank Hanebuth and 24 other people were arrested in a huge police operation dubbed Casablanca. Hanebuth was the leader of a Hells Angels chapter that had established itself in Playa de Palma. Its businesses were said to have been drugs trafficking, money laundering and shady financial dealings, extortion and prostitution.

Hanebuth is from a small town in the Hannover region. By the end of the last century, people feared and respected him in equal measure. Into the 21st century, and German investigators were on his trail, but he eluded them and eventually moved to Mallorca, where he was to create an organisation that allegedly controlled much of the underworld business in Playa de Palma.

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He and others acquired a property well away from the resort. For two and a half million euros, a mansion was bought in Lloret de Vistalegre, which was where he was arrested in 2013.

He spent two years in prison. He was released on conditions in 2015. Able to travel to Germany, he was apparently welcomed back as though he were a head of state. In a white limousine, he toured the streets, where friends flocked to greet him. In 2017, he married Sarah; the reception was attended by some 700 people.

Four years ago, it was reported that the Spanish prosecution service had brought charges against him. Finally, on Monday, January 23, he is due to go on trial at the Audiencia Nacional high court in Madrid.