Police in Germany have launched a mass crackdown on a number of biker gangs engaged in illegal turf wars with rival clubs.

In the early hours of Wednesday morning (18 October), police in the north-western state of North Rhine-Westphalia took part in a mass operation to clamp down on criminal activity among some of the gangs across the state.

Around 700 police officers targeted the banned Concrete City charter and its supporter club Clan 81 in raids across Cologne, Wuppertal and Düsseldorf.

The Hells Angels gangs have been accused of a multitude of crimes ranging from violent attacks and possession of drugs to forced prostitution.

Throughout the raids, weapons, drugs and computers were seized, along with €60,000 (£53,500) in cash.

The state Interior Minister Herbert Reul said: "The purpose and the activity of the biker club and its supporters goes against the law.

"The members of the club are proven criminals. Their everyday life consists of violence, weapons, drugs and forced prostitution.

"The state will not tolerate the growth of these parallel societies that disregard its authority and its monopoly on legitimate use of force."

The turf wars of the gangs, who have their origins in the US, comes down to the ownership of brothels as well as the control of drug trading in the region.

The clashes have at times turned violent. In 2012 a 49-year-old member of the biker union Bandidos was found shot dead.

Other murders have also been found to be connected to the ongoing turf wars with gang members found dead in Münster in 2007 and Duisburg in 2009.

Members of the Hells Angels have sought to disrupt the control that the Bandidos have over the Ruhr region of the state.

Following the mass raids, the gangs have voiced their opposition to the police activity. Hells Angels lawyer Wolf Bonn said that several unnecessary items were taken, including watches, motorcycles and even a bachelor thesis.

Bonn said: "We are now trying to form a comprehensive picture of the measures and people affected, and we are looking into legal moves to oppose the ban."

It is the latest flare-up in activity following struggles between police and the gangs earlier in the year when members of the Hells Angels attempted to disrupt a birthday party for a Bandidos leader in Cologne. "We are going to make sure that there are law and order in the entire North Rhine-Westphalia," Interior Minister Reul said.

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Members of the 'Hells Angels' motorcycle club ride their motorbikes as they arrive to take part in a demonstration on September 9, 2017 in Berlin. Members of the club staged the demo titled 'Freedom is our religion' in order to protest against a new association law that prohibits them from wearing their death's head insignia in the public TOBIAS SCHWARZ/AFP/Getty Images