GANG EXPERT: Jarrod Gilbert says gang
activity is at a 40-year low.
MOTORCYCLE GANG: The Head Hunters have more
than 120 members.
Two notorious outlaw motorcycle gangs are
attempting to set up in post-quake Christchurch, looking to cash in
on organised crime during the rebuild.
The Sunday Star-Times
can reveal the Head Hunters and feared Australian-based gang
Bandidos both now have a presence in the city, but police say they
are yet to gain a foothold.
A gang expert says their arrival is no surprise,
and believes they are taking advantage of the fact that gang
activity in Christchurch is the lowest in decades. Police don't
disagree but say the situation is fluid and difficult to measure.
Police believe Canterbury has about 250 gang
members, but about a third of them are in jail. They acknowledge
that the city will be viewed as an attractive place for organised
crime during the rebuild.
"If you look around New Zealand, as any business
would, and you want to make money, whether it be legitimate or by
crime, you would be foolish not to see what's going on in
Christchurch for the next 10 years," Detective Inspector Tom
Fitzgerald said this week.
He confirmed that the Head Hunters and Bandidos
were attempting to become established in the city.
"There's no doubt they're here, but in very small
numbers at the moment."
Christchurch has been steeped in bikie gang
history ever since the Epitaph Riders formed in 1969. The city was
home to the country's first gang war waged between the Epitaph
Riders and the Devils Henchmen in 1974. It was arguably the most
congested outlaw city in New Zealand during the 1990s, but numbers
fell away as aging membership and methamphetamine took its toll,
gang expert Jarrod Gilbert said. He believed gang activity in
Christchurch was at a 40-year low.
Some of the city's established gangs are among
those flying the colours for the new arrivals.
Former members of the Road Knights have aligned
themselves with the Head Hunters while former members of the Highway
61 are believed to have aligned themselves with the Bandidos.
Fitzgerald said the situation was not cause for
alarm among residents. Police were actively targeting all gangs in
"I don't think these major gangs have been
successful in getting a foothold in Canterbury at all and I will do
my absolute best to make sure they don't.
"We will sustain an environment that is very
uncomfortable for organised crime to survive and that will get
worse, not better for them."
Already this year police in the district had
intercepted gang-related importations of methamphetamine, but he
would not reveal further details.
In 2011 it was announced Australian motorcycle
club the Rebels had moved into New Zealand. The gang quickly spread
throughout the country. They have previously had a gang pad on
Racecourse Rd, but were forced out because of insurance issues.
Gilbert said the group still had a "significant foothold" in the
Christchurch. Fitzgerald said the Gilbert was "probably over rating"
their status, but acknowledged they members in the city and were
trying to establish themselves.
Gilbert said . Methamphetamine use and aging
membership had destroyed many gangs, he said.
Gilbert said Highway 61, Epitaph Riders and Rebels
were the main outlaw motorcycle clubs that remained in the city, but
he was aware of moves by other gangs to establish themselves.
"It's reason for police vigilance, but for 99 per
cent of the population for this city they notice absolutely no
Who are the Head Hunters MC?
The Head Hunters has been in existence in New
Zealand since 1967 when they formed as a street gang in Glen Innes.
Over time they have evolved into a motorcycle club that has chapters
throughout the North Island, but until now their presence has not
been identified in the South Island. The motorcycle club is regarded
as one of the largest motorcycle gangs in the country and police are
concerned by their rapid growth in recent years and their
"propensity towards extreme violence". It has more than 120 patched
Police say the group are involved in a range of
criminal activity - drug manufacture and supply, debt collection and
They use gyms and fight nights or similar events
to recruit new members.
Who are the Bandidos MC?
The Sunday Star-Times first revealed last year the
Bandidos, one of Australia's most feared bikie gangs, was trying to
establish a chapter in South Auckland. Sources said the man at the
centre of the move was convicted killer and former Highway 61 member
Kelly Raymond Robertson. He was later recalled to prison after he
was caught meeting members of the Bandidos at Auckland Airport just
days after his probation officer had told him not to associate with
Police say the gang is now established in New
Zealand with more than 20 patched members.