IT’S not quite Alcatraz, but the
tiny, rundown apartment in Malta where Rebels bikie boss Alex Vella
languishes in exile is as good as any prison.
Vella, a dual national, led the once
powerful outlaw motorcycle gang for 40 years until his Australian
residency was revoked in 2014 under the federal government’s tough new
immigration laws for deporting “undesirables”.
Since Vella has been blocked from
returning to Australia, the leaderless Rebels have been embroiled in a
bloody turf war on the streets of Sydney, resulting in a number of
senior gang members being assassinated and much of the gang’s power base
The Daily Telegraph caught up with
Vella in Malta, where he spends most of his time writing poetry, with
just a few pet birds for company.
In an exclusive interview, Vella, 64,
said he was desperate to return to Australia, claiming he’s broke and
living off the generosity of friends.
Vella had travelled to Malta in June
2014 to settle an old tax debt and visit family members when the federal
government swooped, revoking his residency and stranding him permanently
on the other side of the world from his Australian wife Heather and his
two adult children.
Despite leading the Rebels for 41
years, Vella insists he has done nothing wrong. “I’m an innocent man,”
he said in the scruffy apartment, which a friend lets him use for free.
“I am not a kidnapper. I may have been
in a few hotel fights but that is all.
“I am not in organised crime. If that
was the case I would have been in jail a long time ago.”
After Vella’s residency visa was
cancelled under the newly introduced section 501 of the Migration Act,
the Rebels were “hit from all angles”, according to NSW gangs squad
chief Detective Superintendent Deb Wallace.
“They are certainly feeling the
effects,” she said.
“The Rebels find themselves
leaderless, with a number of their senior members no longer around.”
When The Daily Telegraph sat down with
Vella — who is widely known as The Maltese Falcon — at a street cafe in
the small town of Mosta, he brought along his old friend Father Raphael
DeMartino from the nearby Mosta Catholic Church.
“Alex is a good man and it isn’t fair
what they are doing to him,” Father DeMartino said with apparent
bewilderment that anyone could question his friend’s integrity.
“I hear what they have done and it
breaks my heart.”
Vella still sports his distinctive
mullet and gold rings, and his vice-like handshake is a firm reminder
that he was once a professional boxer.
The colourful father-of-two chuckles
as he reveals that he can’t read or write and often has to ask
passers-by in Malta’s narrow streets to scribble down words and rhymes
as they come to him.
“I cannot read and write but I can
count,” he said when pressed about how he earned all his money.
Vella has also been targeted by a
government taskforce of police, Tax Office and social security
investigators, and says he has been told he owes the ATO $1.8 million.
He has spent the past 32 months
staying with friends in Malta and relying heavily on the generosity of
“I’ve had to sell property,” he said.
“And I borrowed from my son, I borrowed from my wife’s brother.
“Police have been picking on me since
I was 15 years old. But I will never stop trying to come home.”
It may well be a fruitless task
because Immigration Minister Peter Dutton has said Vella will “never” be
allowed back into Australia because he has failed the country’s
“This man is a foreign national,” Mr
“His visa to enter Australia has been
cancelled. He will not be issued another visa. He will never return to
Vella is one of the most high-profile
scalps claimed by the government in its campaign to deport dual
nationals who fail the character test.
Mr Dutton and Justice Minister Michael
Keenan have said bikie gang leaders were targeted as part of an
organised effort to disrupt the outlaw gangs and “cut the head off the
In 2015, Vella appealed his visa
revocation in the Federal Court but lost after police tendered
documents detailing more than 1200 crimes allegedly committed by Rebels
bikies while he was in charge.
The crimes ranged from kidnapping to
extortion and drug trafficking.
Vella denies any involvement in those
charges and says he has been unfairly placed on the Interpol watchlist,
which heavily restricts his ability to travel. “I am being targeted
financially so that I cannot fight back,” he said.
“They (the ATO) threw the book at me
saying I was a bike dealer and I owed $1.8 million in unpaid tax.
“I might sell a few bikes here and
there but I am a collector,” he said. “I had to settle a few months ago
and it really hurt me.”
Vella, who still owns several
properties in Australia — including his old Rebels clubhouse in
Leppington — said he had been forced to sell numerous assets to pay
HEAD OFF THE SNAKE
Rebels Outlaw Motorcycle Club formed
At just 19,
Alex Vella joins the Dubbo chapter of the Rebels in rural NSW.
up a Sydney chapter of the Rebels and is appointed the club’s national
jailed after police find $15,000 worth of marijuana in his home.
travels to Malta for a holiday and to visit family, Immigration Minister
Scott Morrison cancels his residency visa, stranding him there.
With Vella gone, six Rebels are
arrested over the kidnapping and torture
of a former member.
Four Rebels are arrested over the
shooting of a fellow gang member.
Senior Rebels enforcer Mark Easter’s
body found dumped in bushland.
Rebel Tevita Daunibau shoots dead
Sergeant at Arms Darren Wallace in Picton before turning the gun on
himself. Police believe Wallace had been trying to leave the gang.
Michael Davey, believed to be a
Rebel, is shot dead in a driveway in Kingswood.
A group of nine alleged Rebels are
arrested over the murder of Mafia boss Pasquale Barbaro.
Former Rebels enforcer Ricky Ciano is
found dead in a car in Oberon, west of Sydney. He had a price on his
head and is believed to have been executed.
ajor cocaine, ice racket smashed in Qld
Updated: 8:28 pm, Saturday, 18 February 2017
- See more at: http://www.skynews.com.au/news/national/qld/2017/02/18/three-charged-after-major-qld-drug-bust.html#sthash.d01iw07Q.dpuf