Detective Inspector Ian Campbell, the head of the anti-OMCG Echo taskforce, said Victoria’s bikie landscape had changed dramatically in the past five years.
Insp Campbell said it was now evident tougher laws in Queensland, New South Wales and South Australia had pushed gang members into Victoria.
He said there were now 26 clubs with between 1200 and 1400 members in Victoria.
The Hells Angels, he said, still viewed themselves as the pre-eminent outfit with a network of feeder clubs available to do their “dirty work”.
The Bandidos, he said, were well-organised, with links to Mexican drug cartels and a heavy influence in the security and debt-collecting industries.
The Mongols were aggressively recruiting, having patched 50 members within the state’s prison system.
Police are faced with the ominous prospect of those members being released in coming years, among them senior Mongol bikie figure Mohammed Akbar Keshtier.
“He has told prison staff he will be the No.1 criminal when he gets out of jail,” one investigator said.
There seems no end to the recruiting power of the gangs, said detective Sen-Sgt Wayne Cheesman, of Echo.
Even successful operations like the Attero joint operation run against the Rebels had not stopped that gang’s membership expanding.
“They say they can’t keep up with demand,” Sen-Sgt Cheesman said.
“How do we stop these people wanting to join?”
But as time goes on, the motive for bikies’ use of force remains the same.
“They will do anything to retain this money and this power. It is a business machine,” Sen-Sgt Cheesman said.
“It’s all about the money. They’re not going to give that up.”
A graphic demonstration came when Comanchero members raided the home of a low-level drug dealer they viewed as costing them money.
He was severely assaulted before the bikies turned on the kettle and poured boiling water over him.
“They said, ‘You will now buy your drugs from us’,” Sen-Sgt Cheesman said.
Cash may be king but machismo and perception remain important in their little world.
One senior bikie figure grew strangely upset at a series of major raids on a rival outfit.
“You made them look badder than us. You need to raid us,” the office-bearer said.
Detective Superintendent Nigel Ryan, of the Australian Federal Police national anti-gangs office, said the gangs were a key linkage between transnational crime networks.
And they were increasingly using South East Asian countries to find a haven.
“They are restricted by no borders,” Supt Ryan told the conference.