Home Rides Events Tech Links
OUTLAW motorcycle gangs are planning criminal comebacks and eyeing off lucrative former drug markets such as the Gold Coast.
Senior police revealed that intelligence suggested violent bikies – including the Hells Angels, Rebels, Mongols and Bandidos – are opening clubhouses, recruiting new members and bolstering their criminal connections as police ramp up their efforts to stop them reclaiming their former strongholds in Queensland.
“We are certainly seeing increased instances of gang members becoming active in Queensland,” said the acting commander of the state’s anti-bikie taskforce Maxima, acting detective Superintendent Brendan Smith.
“They are turning up covertly, and overtly, on the Gold Coast, in particular – especially the Hells Angels,” he said.
“It’s all about greed for these gangs – they want to be a dominant player anywhere there is a market, and anywhere they can make a quick buck. It’s the nature of the beast.”
A raid earlier this year on a suspected Hells Angels clubhouse on the Gold Coast, and the uncovering of an alleged recruitment drive by the Rebels north of Brisbane, were evidence gangs were not waiting for the outcome of the Palaszczuk Government’s review of the VLAD laws to re-establish in Queensland.
Forty-six Queensland clubhouses remain strictly off-limits after being declared no-go zones under the tough anti-bikie legislation introduced by the LNP.
BRAWLERS: Bikies walk free despite confessing
SEQUEL: Trial relives drama of brawl
“Gangs are recruiting not only the disenfranchised but people with particular skill sets, like those with military backgrounds or tradesmen in specific industries,’’ Supt Smith said.
“At the moment, the gangs have an agenda.
“They are trying to influence public opinion, by saying they are just toy-runners, for example … but doing one toy-run a year doesn’t make up for 364 days of suspected drug trafficking.
“We are working with police nationally and internationally to monitor their movements.
“The gangs have chapters in South-East Asia, and local members travel regularly to these countries.
“While many say they’re going on holidays, we know they are meeting other chapter members to plan their criminal activities.”
Taskforce Maxima has closed five major operations since late May, resulting in 250 alleged bikies and their associates being charged with 831 offences – 220 for trafficking and supplying dangerous drugs.
“As a result of these operations in Mackay, the Gold Coast and Brisbane, police seized $21 million worth of drugs and over $2.5 million in cash,” he said.
“We also took possession of 35 illegal firearms. Who in a normal society, would need a gun that is shortened, or concealable, without a licence?”
Since Maxima began its crackdown in October 2013, 2347 people have been arrested on 6955 charges, including 150 with offences under the VLAD laws and anti-association legislation.
“We are conducting raids every day across the state,” Supt Smith said.
“We believe the bikie gangs are running networks, within networks.
“They are well-established and entrenched. We have a national focus targeting those involved in organised crime, and bikies are certainly part of that.”
Bikie battle ‘like war on terror’
THE state’s deputy police commissioner has likened the police strategies in the battle against bikies to combating homegrown terrorists.
“The fight is similar to our efforts to counterterrorism, in that they are both issues which have impact across the whole country and need to be addressed by law-enforcement and intelligence communities in a collaborative and co-operative way,” Ross Barnett said.
“Police gang squads and our intelligence agencies across the country work extremely well together to combat OMCG (outlaw motorcycle gang) criminality.
“Both issues transcend jurisdictional boundaries. While we consider that both areas pose a national threat to the community, that doesn’t mean they are the same and there is certainly nothing to suggest there is a link between the gangs and terrorists,” he said.
Mr Barnett said another similarity was how authorities gathered intelligence.
“Like counter-terrorism, we are speaking to certain members of the community and informants to keep our intelligence up-to-date,” he said.
Mr Barnett said recent bikie arrests indicated outlaw motorcycle gangs and their associates had strong networks they used “effectively to produce and traffic a range of dangerous drugs” into and out of Queensland.
“These groups have been in this business for a long time. It’s very lucrative and they are proving resilient and law-enforcement has to and will continue to pursue them relentlessly,” he said.
Mr Barnett said that while bikie gang members in Queensland were less visible, the constant flow of arrests revealed some members, former members and associates continued to be strongly involved in organised crime.
“These groups have an enduring global reputation for not only violence but for constant engagement in money-making organised crime of a wide variety, and whilst the returns they are currently getting continue to exist, they will continue to be involved in this sort of activity.”
Mr Barnett said the success of the bikie crackdown had resulted in hundreds of former members disassociating from the gangs, but the campaign to crush them was far from over.
“There is no doubt OMCG groups nationally and internationally have a strong interest in keeping their criminal activities going, and we have an unrelenting focus in stopping them from doing it,” he said.