Police link Bandidos
to Tasmanian arrests as anti-bikie laws head to parliament
A loaded shotgun beside a bed,
thousands of dollars worth of illegal drugs, stolen property and a break-in,
all in a matter of days — with Tasmania Police alleging those responsible
have bikie links.
Wednesday's announcement by one of the state's most
senior officers, which detailed a litany of serious crimes and subsequent
arrests, marked a change in tactics, with the naming and shaming of
so-called outlaw motorcycle gangs (OMCGs) as being allegedly involved.
The tough line comes as the Tasmanian Liberal
Government prepares to put its
controversial anti-bikie legislation
before Parliament this week.
The legislation, which proposed eight amendments to
Tasmanian laws, including a ban on the wearing of club colours in public and
making it illegal for gang members to associate with each other or known
criminals, was put to the public for consultation.
Last week, the submissions were made public,
overwhelmingly negative response to the proposals,
with many complaining about what they said would be the unfair treatment of
innocent motorcycle enthusiasts.
But police said it was the fear of retribution
which was behind the lack of support for law changes.
Police previously conceded the bikies were winning
the public relations war, but said today the new move to name and shame
clubs was not part of a fightback for the hearts and minds of Tasmanians.
"Enough is enough," Acting Assistant Commissioner
Tony Cerritelli said.
"We've decided to name up exactly what's out
there instead of remaining silent, especially when there are comments
claiming that their activities are lawful and in line with civic morals
Tasmania Police have said five drug arrests were
made during this month's Operation Vitreus, an annual national campaign
involving federal and state law enforcement agencies.
- A 49-year-old Devonport man, known to be
an associate of outlaw motorcycle gangs including the Finks, Outlaws
and the Devil's Henchmen for more than 20 years, who was charged
with possessing a banned firearm and other firearm offences.
- A 26-year-old Devonport woman and
confirmed Bandidos associate, who was also present at the address
and allegedly in possession of a quantity of cannabis.
- Another 26-year-old Devonport woman and
known associate of the Bandidos who will face court for allegedly
selling a controlled plant product and firearm offences.
- A 40-year-old Bandidos member who was
charged over a number of outstanding matters including alleged
burglary, evade police (aggravated circumstances), drive
disqualified and other traffic offences.
- A 37-year-old Burnie woman and known
Bandidos associate who will face court over allegedly selling
methylamphetamine, or ice, after her residence was searched as part
of the operation.
Police did not stop there, revealing two men
arrested after a break-in at the Penguin Sports Complex early Tuesday
morning were known associates of the Bandidos and wearing Bandidos clothing
at the time of their arrest.
A 41-year-old Penguin man was charged with burglary
and stealing in relation to the incident - police said when they searched
his home they found a loaded shotgun beside the bed.
They also charged a 31-year-old man with alleged
unlawful possession of stolen property, drug offences including selling a
controlled drug, and firearms offences, including failing to properly store
firearms and ammunition.
"I think these types of cases highlight that we're
not chasing them because they are outlaw motorcycle groups, we're chasing
criminals and they just happened to be outlaw motorcycle gang offenders,"
Acting Assistant Commissioner Cerritelli said.
"On many occasions, those offenders who are
involved in drug trafficking are directly involved in outlaw motorcycle
Acting Assistant Commissioner Cerritelli said the
fact only one of those arrested was an actual member, rather than just an
associate, of the Bandidos did not mean OMCGs were not behind the crimes.
He said it typical for OMCGs to "outsource"
criminal activity to junior members or those on the fringes, to safeguard
actual members, a manner he likened to "the Mafia".
"Superficially they come across as law-abiding
citizens, but underneath they have a very good business model and we
don't want that business model to grow in Tasmania," Acting Assistant
Commissioner Cerritelli said.
The Bandidos are the latest gang to set up in
Tasmania, with a large contingent
visiting the state in late 2017.
In its submission opposing the proposed bikie laws,
the Bandidos argued "no existing member had engaged in serious criminal
activities" in Tasmania, to the "very best of our knowledge".
The club also said the accusation its members were
involved in the ice drug trade is "categorically refuted and is completely
However, Tasmania Police said the recent arrests of
six people with Bandidos links for serious crimes ran counter to that claim.
"I consider that might even be the tip of the
iceberg," Acting Assistant Commissioner Cerritelli said.