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Several police and bikie sources have confirmed the fire which gutted two businesses and damaged four others at Nobby Beach about 2am on July 2, involved gang members.
The Bulletin has learned the Hells Angels on the eve of VLAD laws being removed have returned to the strip between Mermaid Beach and Burleigh where they once had a clubhouse.
A bikie source told the Bulletin: “It is all about who will control Nobby Beach through to Burleigh. It was the same discussion before VLAD laws came in.
“This area is seen as the new Broadbeach. One of the businesses didn’t want to pay the money. They torched him.
“It was originally Black Uhlans territory, then the Hells Angels took over and then no sooner than they were there we had VLAD and they were booted out of Lemana Lane (at Burleigh Heads).”
A police source revealed the fire occurred after one of the business owners, when approached by Hells Angels bikies, had refused to pay protection money.
Another police source confirmed that in the past few months “bikies are starting to come back into the precinct and are resorting to serious extortion again”.
“That particular incident is still being investigated but I think you can connect the dots.
“It’s very rare a fire just happens.”
Police in a statement confirmed the blaze was suspicious but would not say whether their leads included bikies.
“Investigations are still being conducted to determine the exact cause of the fire. As the matter is presently under investigation this is all the information that can be released at this time,” police said.
Bikies boast about getting at least $30,000 in protection payments which sees them provide security around premises and successfully control the drug trade.
They say the money is so good on the Coast that “it’s hard to turn your back on it”.
“Small businesses are being extorted every day. You wouldn’t believe it,” a Bandidos source said.
“It’s not happening in dodgy industrial areas.
“It’s happening at local restaurants and coffee shops now.
“It’s never stopped, it’s just gotten more brazen over the past few months.”
The links between the fire and bikie gangs first surfaced in comments posted online after a short Bulletin report about the overnight blaze.
“We absolutely need to keep the pressure on bikies. Don’t give them an inch. Shame on Labour (sic) for going easy on crime,” a resident wrote.
Several business owners approached yesterday near the gutted shops were reluctant to discuss the fire but referred the Bulletin to Facebook comments.
“Everyone is talking about it. We all have our own theories,” a long term trader said.
Mermaid Beach MP Ray Stevens said he was not aware of businesses being threatened but predicted intimidation and standover tactics by bikies would return once the VLAD laws were removed.
“It’s a sad indictment of the current government in this state even contemplating the watering down of effective bikie laws to rid these germs from the state,” Mr Stevens said.
Burleigh MP Michael Hart, after speaking to several restaurant owners, said he had found they were concerned about the bikies returning.
“They are seeing an increase in bikies with colours but because of the present laws they think they are not attending their premises or giving them any grief,” Mr Hart said.
“If they change the law, we will be right back where we were and they are scared about that.”
The blaze is the first real evidence of bikie warfare since the Bulletin in December last year revealed the gangs had returned to the Coast, after two Finks armed with baseball bats bashed a Hells Angels member in the ritzy Varsity Lakes restaurant precinct.