Deported Australian bikie gang members could make Taranaki home
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Outlaw Australian bikie gang members could be heading for New Zealand and Labour leader Andrew Little says police are not resourced to deal with them.
Members of the notorious Comanchero Motorcycle gang are understood to be making their way to the Taranaki region and could already be here after being recently deported from Australia.
New legislation in Australia has also seen members of the Rebels, Bandidos, Hells Angels, Finks and Gypsy Jokers exiled from the country.
In May Melbourne's Herald Sun reported 56 gang members, 25 Rebels, 20 Comancheros and 11 Bandidos had been booted out of Australia.
While Little said his source, from within police national Headquarters, confirmed some Comancheros gang members were likely to be making Taranaki home, area commander Inspector Keith Borrell said there was no evidence of that.
"New Zealand Police are unaware of any Comancheros currently being based or residing in the Taranaki Area," Borrell said.
"We are aware that a number of gang members have been deported from Australia including members from this group but have no information to say they have established themselves in Taranaki."
Borrell would not speculate on whether the gang members would make the region home but said police were always focused on preventing illegal activity.
"Any criminal group who comes into the region, we are interested in their activities and we will be monitoring them."
However Little said he had specifically asked about Comanchero gang members in Taranaki and he was confident his source was correct.
"They said yes, Comanchero gang members, yes it is most likely some will end up in Taranaki," he said.
"The person I spoke to said 'yes', it will be likely there will be Comanchero members, they are going across all New Zealand but they will be winding up in Taranaki too."
Little said he had been told the gang members of most concern heading back across the Tasman were the Bandidos.
While many of the deportations were as a result of failing a character test by being associated with certain motorcycle gangs, Little said the members still had their affiliations and was worried they could set up new chapters in New Zealand.
"Yes, we do need to be concerned about that, the reality is that gangs of this nature are often involved in criminal offending and organised crime.
"When you get organised gangs and they describe themselves as outlaws then there is a high probability that there's criminal activity and that's only ever going to cause the community harm and it's going to put huge pressure on the police to keep abreast of it and try to keep it under control."
The deportees were arriving at a time when the country's population was growing but police numbers had fallen and it was going to further stretch resources, Little said.
"What we are facing and at a time of static police numbers, it's going to create problems for us in the future there's no doubt about it.
"The police have enough of a handful at the moment dealing with New Zealand based gangs and their involvement in organised crime, this is going to add to the problem."
Little, who has promised Labour would fund an extra 1000 police in its first term, said extra officers were urgently needed to tackle crimes that have got out of control under National.
The additional staff would boost police numbers to 10,000 and bring the police to population ratio back below one to 500 as it was in 2008, he said.
- The Comanchero Motorcycle Club formed by William George "Jock" Ross, a Scottish immigrant, in Sydney in 1968.
- Ross chose the name after seeing the John Wayne film The Comancheros.
- In 1982 a second chapter was formed by Anthony Mark "Snoddy" Spencer. When visiting the United States Spencer met with members of the Texan motorcycle club, the Bandidos and the two gangs became allies.
- The Bandidos eventually patched-over the second Comanchero chapter to become the Bandidos' first Australian chapter.
- The Comanchero and Bandidos are now rivals and in 1984, the two clubs were involved in the Milperra massacre, a shoot-out which left seven people dead, including four Comancheros, two Bandidos, and a 14-year-old bystander.