Bikies hunt fresh blood
From: The Sunday Times
June 09, 2012
BIKIE gangs are locked in a fierce new race to sign up new members or nominees.
Police say the recruitment drive has seen the two-year initiation process for gang members reduced to only six months.
Follow Anthony DeCeglie on Twitter: @anthdeceglie
Sources say the Rebels outlaw motorcycle gang is intent on establishing a stranglehold in Perth's northern suburbs.
The club, which is the biggest in the state and has about 80 members, has recently opened clubhouses in Clarkson and Joondalup.
Meanwhile, the campaign for new recruits has escalated in prisons.
Officials said new inmates were being sized up immediately for their potential whereas in the past it had been a lengthy process to break into a group.
There are nine different gangs and 339 known bikies and nominees in WA. The Rebels, with six local chapters, and the Coffin Cheaters, with five, are the most powerful.
The recruitment drive coincides with reports this week that some bikies attached to the Finks motorcycle club on the Gold Coast had defected to WA to join the Perth chapters of the fledging Rock Machine gang.
Six months ago Rock Machine was reported to have just a handful of members.
Assistant Police Commissioner Nick Anticich said outlaw motorcycle gangs were ignoring traditions in the race to sign up new members.
He said at the heart of the battle for dominance was a culture clash between younger gangs trying to make a name for themselves and established clubs with decades-old customs.
"There has always been a detailed process that was required of a prospective member or 'nom' before they could become a 'fully patched' member, during which they were expected to demonstrate their allegiance to the club," he said.
"This could be a period of up to two years. However, an emerging trend has been that the nominee period has been getting shorter with some becoming fully patched members within 6-12 months."
Mr Anticich said bikie gangs were focusing on recruiting specialised criminals, whose expertise could help them make money.
"We now see (them) actively recruiting known drug dealers and other criminals that are seen to meet the clubs' requirements," he said. Mr Anticich said the traditional "bearded bikie" had been replaced by a newer breed of "image-conscious" criminals, whose preference was "designer clothes" over leathers.
"Potential recruits should think long and hard before joining as there is a huge price to pay for it," he said.
"The bikie lifestyle is glamorised as a hard man's world of honour and status, riding motorbikes and good times.
"This could be no further from the truth. It is about crime, power and greed."