A member of the Mongols Motorcycle club, Australia. Photo: Simon Alekna
International outlaw motorcycle gangs are targeting Australia because of wildly inflated illicit-drug prices, and Victoria is the destination of choice due to a black hole in the criminal law, a high level crime conference has been told.
"They are prepared to flood our shores with drugs," said the state anti-gangs division head, Detective Superintendent Peter De Santo.
"Outlaw motorcycle gangs see Australia as the land of opportunity."
Illustration: Matt Golding. Photo: Matt Golding
He said the price of Ice in the US is around $5600 a kilo while the price in Australia is between $220,000 and $300,000.
Revelations at the joint Victoria and Australian Federal Police forum for over 100 investigators included:
*An Australian gang has tried to buy an Indian pharmaceutical company to provide pseudoephedrine for illicit drug production.
*A Russian woman who in recent months has invested $13 million in Melbourne property has established connections with a major bikie gang.
*The Tax Office has hit one group with a $34.5 million penalty and one bikie with a bill of nearly $13 million.
*In a confidential briefing US Drug Enforcement Administration investigators said Australian gangs are more advanced than their American counterparts.
*Police are concerned gangs are attempting to recruit former military staff with experience in overseas conflicts.
*Victoria is seen as a safe haven for bikies because NSW, South Australia and Queensland have brought in tough anti-gang laws.
*Local bikies are involved in domestic violence crimes every four to five days.
*Trans-national organised crime has become a $15 billion business in Australia.
The conference was told the Mongols gang was aggressively recruiting violent criminals inside prisons as part of a national expansion program. "This is a huge concern for us," Echo outlaw bikie taskforce head Inspector Ian Campbell said.
He said one Hells Angels-ordered bombing in Melbourne would have been a disaster if the explosive device had not partially malfunctioned. "It could have levelled half a block if it had worked properly."
"We have a real problem here."
Echo bikie expert Detective Senior Sergeant Wayne Cheesman said many of the recruits were from a violent Muslim crime group. "They have told prison authorities, 'We will come to your house. We don't care'."
The leader of the group Mohammad Akbar Keshtier, 43, also known as Afghan Ali, is due for release within weeks after he completes a sentence for a double shooting. He was "patched over" as a Mongols member while in jail.
Speakers at the conference included senior Victorian gang detectives, the head of the National Anti-Gang Taskforce and investigators from Canada, Las Vegas and US Federal US agencies.
The conference was told bikie-gang bosses were moving to Victoria from interstate to avoid anti-gang laws because Melbourne was seen as "Switzerland" – neutral and safe.
Senior Sergeant Cheesman said a possible war between the Bandidos and Hells Angels was averted because rival gang bosses "got together and decided it would be bad for business. It is all about the money."
He said bikie bosses had told him they were prepared to lower their profile until police moved on to other targets. "They plan to outlast us. It is a machine that is never going to stop."
He said bikie leaders bragged they had never had so many people wanting to join the gangs. "The numbers (of inquiries) have increased tenfold. They can't keep up with the demand."
Detective John Woosnam, a Las Vegas bikie investigator said, "The money your guys are making is staggering."
"You have to act now and act decisively or you will have to deal with the consequences later."