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LUKE ELIOT CHIEF CRIME REPORTER, The West Australian March 25, 2011, 5:08 am
Loaded handguns, drugs and a mortar round from World War II were seized during police raids at properties linked to the warring Rebels and Rock Machine bikie gangs yesterday.
The dawn operation came as a 30-year-old Rock Machine member, whose name was suppressed, appeared in Perth Magistrate's Court charged with the attempted shooting murder of Rebels WA president Nick Martin outside his Balcatta home on Friday.
Teams of detectives assembled at Curtin House before heading to targets in Waikiki, Attadale, Spearwood, Success and the Bicton home of the Rock Machine president.
The Rebels' Rockingham clubhouse was also raided.
Marden Road in Thornlie was cordoned off after detectives found the live WWII mortar round.
Military explosives experts were called to clear the scene before detectives resumed their search.
The West Australian understands that some of the raids yesterday were carried out while some bikies were showering and others were eating breakfast.
Assistant Commissioner Nick Anticich confirmed lethal weapons were found within arm's reach of suspects as officers burst into the properties.
"That's an indicator of where we are with this particular level of violence," Mr Anticich said.
"I think one could consider these both defensive weapons and weapons of attack."
The shooting attack on Mr Martin is the most recent, high-profile example of violence between the groups that stretches back to at least July and included firebombings, bashings and vandalism.
The 41-year-old was shot in an arm and a bullet hit his Harley-Davidson motorcycle seconds after he pulled into the driveway of his Attra Street home.
Mr Anticich said yesterday's operation followed raids earlier this week and came as a result of organised crime activity in recent months.
"Yesterday's activities were aimed at identifying and seizing evidence and material in support of charges but also in deterring and disrupting this ongoing activity and tension between the two clubs," Mr Anticich said.
"I believe we are having some success.
"Today's activities have resulted in the seizure of a number of weapons we believe would have been used in ongoing violent activity between the gangs."
When asked how bikie wars were historically resolved, Mr Anticich said: "Unfortunately, generally history has shown us they culminate in a cataclysmic event, death and injury to those involved and quite often, overseas, innocent people are injured or killed as well."