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Hells Angels' bar venture downsized

Sunday, 13 November 2011

 

The Hells Angels’ business foray into Phuket appears to be in a state of purgatory – at least from afar. The notorious international biker gang ventured onto the island last year, opening a bar in Patong – The Other Place – in May 2010. It attracted the attention of the Brisbane-based Courier Mail newspaper, which recently published an article about Australian biker gangs spreading their operations to Thailand. However, the story’s claims of the Patong bar becoming “popular with bikies worldwide” appear to be somewhat sensationalised. Indeed, instead of being the “unique” concept and “spacious biker bar” described on the Hells Angels website, The Other Place has been forced to downgrade its venue due to a lack of clientele, according to a source. The bar’s original premises, in JJ Plaza near Jungeylon, have been closed for several months. Instead, the bar is now in a much smaller venue in Soi Easy, one of the many avenues of sleaze found off Soi Bangla, and is capable of seating just a handful of patrons. There’s not even drive-up access for Harleys. The Phuket News visited the bar last week, but the two owners were in Australia and unavailable for comment. Repeated emails to the Hells Angels Brisbane chapter, with which (according to the Courier Mail) The Other Place is affiliated, were also met with no response. Regardless of the size of the bar, it’s no secret the Hell’s Angels carry with them a very particular reputation – for drug trafficking, extortion and acts of extreme violence. The Brisbane chapter alone, since 1995, has had 14 members arrested, 30 charged with criminal offences, and 19 convictions (including murder, attempted murder, grievous bodily harm, and drug trafficking) for a total jail time of 68 years. A Queensland-based police officer reportedly told the Courier Mail that Thailand was significant as a source of chemicals for drug manufacture and trafficking, adding that scrutiny of Gold Coast bikers’ travel would show “a lot of trips” here. “A lot of them [bikers] are looking into Thailand – it gives them the opportunity to source pharmaceuticals,” the source was quoted as saying. So far though, police in Phuket are aware of no such problems arising, with Deputy Superintendent of Kathu Police Station Pol Lt Col Kittipong Klykaew saying he had received “no reports of violence or illegal activity”. He was not even aware of who the Hells Angels were. While there is no evidence to suggest any illegal activity occurring at the bar or from any Hells Angels members based in Phuket, the opening of The Other Place has raised eyebrows amongst the local biker community. One individual, who wanted to remain anonymous, said: “The local biker community are aware of Hells Angels being here. They are not the kind of guys who you can mess around with. “So far, they haven’t caused any trouble with local bikers. By setting boundaries, local bikers avoid getting involved with them.” Thailand’s biker groups generally have a reputation for being very peaceful, while the Hells Angels’ primary motto is “When we do right, nobody remembers. When we do wrong, nobody forgets”. The Hells Angels are not the only ones on the move – the Bandidos have a prospect chapter in Phuket and a full fledged chapter in Bangkok, and about five years ago hit the news when members were arrested over allegations of illegal land dealings on Koh Samui. The charges were eventually dropped.

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A person charged with a crime is presumed innocent until proven guilty

A person charged with a crime is presumed innocent until proven guilty

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