'Commander of the
world': Bikie boss attempts to quell fears of civil war with a text
Under the soft pink and purple
lights deep inside a glorified shed known as the Capital Men's Club,
Bikie frivolity quickly transforms
into ugly violence as fellow Comanchero gang members suddenly start
in on each other. Some smash schooner glasses into their own
foreheads in an apparent act of courage and bravado before laying
the boot into others.
There are about 40 Comancheros
inside the strip club, in the ACT suburb of Fyshwick, after hundreds
had gathered in the national capital as part of the gang's national
ride to coincide with its "annual general meeting".
By the time some sort of calm is
restored, and the local constabulary enters the one-storey building
in the middle of an industrial estate, a sea of glass is spread
across the sticky carpet and blood runs from wounds.
But no one sees what happened. Or
at least that is what they tell the police.
Closed circuit television footage
suggests that drunken chest beating, rather than any degree of
planning, is to blame for the August 20 brawl.
Fears of a civil war within the
ranks of the Comanchero have had police, including the anti-bikie
Strike Force Raptor, on high alert for months.
A power vacuum was created last
year when national president Mark Buddle fled to Europe, prompting a
feud which has split members between their offshore leader and one
closer to home.
Further outbreaks of violence –
some known to law enforcement but many under the radar – are
understood to have been prompted by the return to Australia of
Buddle's right-hand man, Ali Bazzi.
Bazzi had been travelling around
Europe with Buddle, who is a key suspect in several high-profile
investigations, after Bazzi came to blows with another high-ranking
club member, Mezan Chandab, earlier this year.
The fight prompted Buddle, who is
thought to be somewhere in the Mediterranean, to text all Comanchero
club members in September to say Ali Bazzi was in charge of the club
until Buddle returned.
"I'm the f---ing commander of the
world ... no one is to touch another member or set up another
chapter without my permission," the text read.
Buddle and Bazzi go way back –
Buddle told police after being caught trying to leave Australia in a
chartered jet in July 2015 with $60,120 in cash stashed in his
luggage that part of the money was from Bazzi. The rest was from
former brothel owner Eddie Hayson.
Sources from within the
Comancheros say Buddle's direct text message last month led Chandab
to split from the club, taking about 20 members with him, and
threaten to set up his own chapter.
Although the proposed chapter is
yet to eventuate, it is understood Chandab has refused to hand back
his Comanchero colours.
The increased tension, and
concerns of an all-out war erupting across Sydney, prompted police
from the gangs squad and Strike Force Raptor to get proactive.
They swooped on the houses of
Comanchero members and associates – using legislation relating to
Firearm Prohibition Orders police can search suspects, as well as
their homes and cars, without a warrant.
A fortnight after the Fyshwick
fight, Chandab's brother and self-proclaimed Comanchero Hayan
Chandab was arrested at Seven Place, St Marys and charged with
firearm offences after an FPO search allegedly uncovered a loaded
Smith & Wesson .357 Magnum revolver, more than 500 grams of cocaine,
a bulletproof vest and steroids.
On October 18, Comanchero Fares
Abounader was arrested and charged after a Glock pistol, allegedly
part of a batch illegally imported into Australia from Germany, and
$10,000 cash was seized during an FPO raid at Lugarno. His colours
were also seized.
NSW gangs squad commander
Detective Superintendent Deb Wallace believes the tension may have
eased, if temporarily, following increased attention from
"There was a potential conflict
and we are not suggesting it has finished, but we believe it may
have settled at the moment," Superintendent Wallace said.
"We are very mindful that these
conflicts can arise again, and arise quickly."
This is not the first time there
has been a civil war within the Comancheros. In 2013, a clubhouse at
Turrella in Sydney's south was raided by up to 80 members of
neighbouring chapters who attacked their counterparts.
The south chapter members were
told to shut down their operation and either join other chapters or
hand in their colours.
And a chapter in the Hunter
attracted the wrath of the national executive after a series of
bumbling actions put the organisation up for public ridicule. It
included setting up a clubhouse next to a gun shop and across the
road from a school, very public spats in pubs and even taking a
local council to court over the shutting of another clubhouse at