Investigation uncovers a bikie menace
From: Herald Sun
September 10, 2012
A SILENT war is being fought between lawmakers and lawbreakers, as revealed by a Herald Sun investigation into a growing bikie menace.
The Victorian Government is drafting legislation it plans to present to Parliament by the end of this year, as the gangs are brought together by a common need to overturn the laws on constitutional grounds.
Bikie gangs that rely on bashings and intimidation to discourage attention are now working with lawyers to protect their criminal enterprises.
The public is largely unaware of these activities.
Bikie thugs were among the hundreds of union agitators in confrontations with police at the blockade on the Grocon site in Melbourne over the past two weeks.
The Comancheros, the Bandidos, the Gypsy Jokers, the Finks, the Hells Angels and the Rebels are some of the outlaw motorcycle clubs active in a number of states.
Some have been drawn to Victoria after clashes with police. South Australia and New South Wales drafted laws that were to be successfully challenged by the gangs.
But many gang members had already made the ride to Melbourne, where they have continued manufacturing and supplying amphetamines.
Victoria Police believes there are now more than 1000 of these outlaw gang members, who refer to themselves as "one-percenters", the one per cent bold enough, they boast, to put themselves above the law.
But behind the bikie bravado is a trail of criminal endeavour, big profits and vicious assaults. Many of the bashings go unreported because gangs take vengeance on defectors.
Melbourne crime families have joined with some of the gangs. They are seen rumbling in the wake of the hearse at Melbourne's criminal funerals.
Hits on other gang members are arranged.
Sometimes the public is caught up in the gunfire, as happened in Melbourne when Bandido sergeant-at-arms Toby Mitchell was gunned down outside a suburban gym last year. Bullets hit a car in which children were passengers.
Police believe a suburban factory was used as a place to torture bikie victims.
Gangland figures and career criminals known to police are often under surveillance. They enjoy ostentation, sitting at tables in some of the city's best restaurants. They are seen in Melbourne nightclubs and bars. They frequent boxing and martial arts contests.
Herald Sun reporters and photographers have been threatened in the researching of reports in today's paper and online.
Profiles on gangs and gang members are part of their reports.
The laws being proposed by the Victorian Government are aimed at giving the Supreme Court powers to declare clubs outlaw gangs if they are involved in drug trafficking, extortion, intimidation and violence.
Members will be prevented from associating with each other unless they can prove they do not pose a threat to public order and safety.
But instead of assaults and gunfire, the skirmishes to come will be between barristers in Victoria's courts.
These laws will be fiercely debated - and will be closely followed by the Herald Sun as they are presented to Parliament.