Prosecutors aim to dissolve motorcycle crime gang

This would mark the first attempt in Finnish history to ban a nationally-operating organised crime biker group.

Cannonball MC club room on Karjalankatu in Helsinki. Image: Poliisin arkisto / Lehtikuva

Prosecutors are seeking to ban the motorcycle gang Cannonball MC -- widely considered an organised crime group -- and its subsidiary Squad 32, marking the first time that attempts have been made to dismantle a national biker gang.

In the recent past, neo-Nazi organisation Nordic Resistance Movement and crime gang United Brotherhood have been banned in Finland. For United Brotherhood, the court's decision is not yet final, but the organisation is temporarily banned from operating.

On October 20, prosecutors filed a lawsuit in Päijät-Häme District Court to ban Cannonball MC, in its entirety, along with its subsidiary organisation Squad 32. Prosecutors consider Cannonball MC to be an illicit association according to Section 3 of the Associations Act, acting in a manner contrary to the law and good behaviour.

"The primary purpose and goal of this gang is to obtain financial gain through criminal means," says special prosecutor Timo Honkahuhta.

According to Honkahuhta, the complaint is similar to that demanding the dissolution of the United Brotherhood. Both are, according to the prosecution, militarily organised crime groups.

Prosecutors say Squad 32 is contributing to Cannonball MC's illegal activities. The complaint asks that both associations be temporarily suspended. A temporary injunction is a measure that can be ordered by a district court even before a possible injunction can be issued.

Several Cannonball-related preliminary examinations and trials are currently underway.

Defendant in custody

Prosecutors have named Esko Eklund, director of Cannonball MC, as the defendant in the complaint.

Born in 1976, Eklund has previously been convicted of crimes he committed as part of Cannonball MC and has allegedly been in charge of the gang for a number of years. Cannonball MC itself has not publicly announced a leader of the organisation.

Eklund is currently in custody on suspicion of aggravated drug offences.

Organised crime group

Cannonball has been identified as an organised crime group in several Finnish courts, including the Supreme Court, usually in relation to stiffer sentences for gang members.

One of the grounds for the harsher sentencing of a defendant is that the crime was committed as part of the activities of an organised crime group.

Penalties for Cannonball members have often been hardened on the basis of this section in the Finnish penal code.