Bandidos gang claims big presence in south
International members of a notorious outlaw motorcycle gang have ridden into the south to help set up the Invercargill and Dunedin probationary chapters.
The Southland Times has reported that the Bandidos Motorcycle Worldwide Club set up chapters in the south last month.
However, police have played down the number of members they believe are part of the gang in the south.
The establishment of the two southern probationary chapters and the presence of an international and national Bandidos hierarchy at a "patching" ceremony are being celebrated on the club's website.
A post says "Bandidos MC New Zealand are excited about welcoming into our Great Red & Gold Nation two new probationary chapters".
The post also said photographs on the website were from last month's patching ceremony for the "Invercargill and Dunedin Probationary Chapters".
"This party took place at Bandido Probationary Wally's house, he is the Invercargill president who lives in Invercargill city which is the capital city of Southland located at the most southern end of the South Island of New Zealand with a population of around 55,000 people."
The post says members from the Bandidos Australian National and Nomad Chapters attended the three-day event and presented the new members with their probate and prospect colours.
Members from the Auckland chapter, Christchurch probationary chapter, as well as family and friends who "showed massive support", also attended the event.
However, police said the number of Bandido members in the south was not significant. The southern district organised crime squad head, Detective Senior Sergeant Malcolm Inglis, said he believed the gang might be "blowing things up a bit".
There were only about three Australian members in Invercargill when the probationary chapters were formed, he said.
The Bandidos had recruited from other gangs, including former Road Knight members. It was disappointing another criminal element was now in the south, Inglis said. "Hopefully they will be sensible and there will be no gang disputes."
Southern police had made one arrest of a Bandido associate since the arrival of the gang.
A man in a Bandido T- shirt had been arrested in Dunedin for serious assault, Inglis said.
The Bandidos southern probationary chapters follow the establishment of a probationary chapter in Christchurch, with The Press reporting the Bandidos patched over members of the Rock Machine motorcycle club in November.
In 2012, it was reported the Bandidos were setting up a chapter in South Auckland.