The Rebels’ clubrooms on the corner of
Letitia Street, North Hobart.
Rebels clubs are well-established in the
The Black Uhlans has been growing its
Tasmania Police Assistant Commissioner Glenn
Frame. Picture: RICHARD JUPE
Local and federal police recently swooped on
three Bandidos associates at Devonport Airport, allegedly finding them with
ice, cocaine and a stolen motorbike.
“They are not considered fully patched
Bandidos members but do display their allegiance to this gang,” Assistant
Commissioner Glenn Frame said.
“Our intervention is a significant disruption
to their plans.”
Former detective Terry Goldsworthy, an
assistant professor at Bond University, said any violence depended on what
kind of bikie landscape the Bandidos were rolling into.
“Where are they moving into would be the
question. Are they moving into areas that have been colonised by the
gangs?’’ Dr Goldsworthy said.
“If they are moving into those areas there’d
certainly be friction.”
According to Tasmania Police, there are more
than 250 bikies and associates across five organised gangs – the Rebels, the
Outlaws, the Black Uhlans, Satans Riders and Devils Henchmen. There are 16
bikie gang clubhouses.
The three Bandidos associates arrested at the
airport lived in the North-West, suggesting that is where the gang intends
on making its mark. If that is the case they will rub shoulders with
Tasmania’s most notorious bikies.
The Rebels, the Outlaws and the Black Uhlans
have been expanding operations in the North-West.
Mr Frame suggested drugs were the motivation
for the Bandidos’ planned incursion.
“Outlaw motorcycle clubs are always trying to
expand their criminal organisation and use their business model to increase
their profit from illegal activities,” he said.
“Australia’s profitable markets for illicit
goods, in particular illicit drugs, drive OMCGs [outlaw motorcycle gangs] to
these illegal activities.”
Dr Goldsworthy agreed a move to Tasmania was
more likely to be criminal intent than a lifestyle change.
“If you’re looking at people who are going
there to commit criminal activity, what markets are there, what type of drug
usage problems have they got?” he said.
“Is there a market they can break into and
will it be possible for them? [That] would be the underpinning things for
those that are coming there for a criminal enterprise purpose.”
Ice or methamphetamine in the North-West has
grabbed national attention in recent years.
In 2014 Rural Health Tasmania chief executive
Robert Waterman said he had seen a 10-fold increase in the use of ice in the
region. He said one in 10 people were addicted to the drug in Smithton.
The region’s ice problem featured in aFour
Cornersexpose and on7.30on
A subsequent government report found ice use
in the North-West was rising but it equated to similar increases elsewhere
across the country and was not an epidemic.
The Bandidos first came to national attention
in the early 1980s after a massacre on the outskirts of Sydney.
The club was formed by a bunch of disgruntled
Comancheros who had jumped ship.
When the newly formed Bandidos – who received
the nod of approval from the club’s US president – and Comancheros
encountered each other in the carpark of a Sydney pub it resulted in the
country’s deadliest bikie confrontation.
The Milperra massacre, carried out in broad
daylight on a Father’s Day, left six bikies dead along with bystander Leanne
Walters, aged 14.
The Bandidos have maintained their penchant
for violence over the years.
“The Bandidos [on the Gold Coast] are one of
the gangs with a high level of criminality,” Dr Goldsworthy said.
“The statistics would tell us they are one of
the groups that commit more of the crime when you’re talking about bikies.”
Mr Frame said Bandidos and other OMCGs “were
not welcome here at all”.
“While the possibility of violence can’t be
discounted, we are confident our efforts will reduce this possibility,” he
Law enforcement like to portray OMCGs as the
manifestation of evil while bikies would prefer the community to see them as
gruff blokes who deliver soft toys to sick kids.
Dr Goldsworthy said the truth was in the
“Anyone who says all bikies are criminals,
well the statistics say that is not the case,” he said.
“The police do try to portray them as all
criminals. The converse is the bikes say, ‘we are just like a rowing club’.
Well clearly they’re not.”
Dr Goldsworthy said that in Queensland about
40 per cent of bikies had criminal records in 2014.
He said the gangs were not specifically
embroiled in organised crime, it was select individuals within the group.
“They have a criminal element. Some of them
don’t commit crime, they just go there for the image,” he said.
“There are others who go there to use that
brand for criminal purposes.”
Mr Frame said Tasmanian bikies had proven
links to mainland OMCG chapters and international crime syndicates involved
in the manufacture, distribution and trafficking of illicit drugs and
“We will continue to hold them to account,”