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AN outlaw bikie gang is targeting Tongans in a recruitment drive within the state’s jails, sparking a war among rival Pacific Islander groups.
Senior bikies have approached the Tongans, known for their size and toughness, because the two groups already have close ties within the state’s prisons.
But the move has caused simmering tensions between Tongan and Samoan gangs to boil over, with officers at the maximum security Goulburn Correctional Centre firing live bullets and tear gas to break up a brawl between five inmates on Tuesday morning.
Another fight erupted in the afternoon between the rival groups, with one inmate taken to hospital with serious injuries. Sources have revealed the fight was sparked by the two Pacific Islander gangs.
Prison sources say the gang problem inside jails is rising, with prison staff concerned about the increasing number of inmates being recruited while serving time. Muslim inmates are also being recruited by senior Middle Eastern crime gangs, including Brothers For Life.
“We believe the outlaw motorcycle gangs are recruiting among certain ethnic groups and that’s contributing to some of the violence,” Mr McMahon said.
“It’s about the way they’ve formed up into gangs and about who has the control.”
Mr McMahon said the government needed to “take the gang situation more seriously”.
“We don’t believe the department are doing enough in relation to addressing the presence of gangs in the prison system,” he said.
“We’d like them to take it seriously and actually put all the programs in place to deal with it or investigate and share with us what credible evidence that support their notion that gangs are not a problem.”
Outlaw motorcycle gangs still control the bulk of the prison drug trade, with the Hell’s Angels running Long Bay Jail, the Comancheros and Bandidos controlling Lithgow, and the Rebels strong in Goulburn. Brothers For Life maintain a violent presence at every prison in NSW.
Longstanding white supremacist prison gang W2K (Willing To Kill) also still has a strong representation within the jail system, with one member, armed robber Aaron John Errington, starting a brawl at Parklea jail earlier this month.
The other inmates became aggressive when officers tried to restrain Errington after he reportedly spat on a guard.
Corrective Services Commissioner Peter Severin said: “We do take gangs seriously. There are gangs in our system as there are gangs in other correctional systems.”