Jail new recruiting ground as bikie ranks soar
- From: Sunday Herald Sun
- March 23, 2013
It can be revealed that there are now 1200 fully "patched" outlaw bikies within the state, as desperate efforts to quash a feared conflict continue under Victoria Police's Operation Resound.
The Sunday Herald Sun can also reveal:
COMANCHERO Hallam chapter president Mick Murray was living in the luxurious and secure Crown casino.
UP to 50 Victorian prisoners have been recruited as members of the Finks.
POLICE now fear high-powered pistols stolen during a raid on a Melbourne secure storage complex will be used in a bikie conflict.
A FLASHY Melbourne businessman was bashed and robbed by Bandidos over a $50,000 cocaine debt.
NORTHERN suburbs figure Ali Chaouk has become a fully "patched" member of the feared Hells Angels.
MELBOURNE identity Terrence Chimirri was linked to Hells Angels feeder club the Red Devils before he was arrested over car thefts.
Police have vowed more raids on bikie interests and 25 warrants have been executed since March 6 after warnings a bikie war was about to erupt.
Echo Taskforce detective Inspector Ian Campbell said police would continue their strategy to disrupt the bikie gangs.
"Victoria Police has launched Operation Resound, a whole-of-force response to concerns about violent conflict between outlaw motorcycle gangs and their affiliated groups and the risk this poses to the Victorian community," Insp Campbell said.
Bikie gangs are expanding into rural Victoria and almost half the state's chapters are based outside the Melbourne metropolitan area.
Intelligence also shows high-ranking bikies are living in luxurious and secure penthouses dotted across the CBD, including Crown casino.
Police were concerned Comanchero Hallam chapter president Murray was living at the luxurious - and very secure - Crown hotel for about a month.
It can also be revealed the Finks, aligned to the Bandidos and Comancheros, are expanding in Victoria.
The escalation in overall membership - which the Australian Crime Commission estimates at 4000 nationally - does not include prospective members and associates.
Other gangs are also using the prisons as a recruiting ground.
Hells Angels prospect Ali Chaouk's "full patch" status is part of a greater Middle Eastern influence within the infamous club.
And former gangland figure Terrence Chimirri was linked to Hells Angels feeder club the Red Devils before he was charged and remanded over car thefts.
While police efforts to quell a brewing "war" declared by the Hells Angels and Bandidos have so far been successful, the force's Operation Resound is shaping as critical in a sustained effort to limit bloodshed.
The Sunday Herald Sun can reveal that high-powered pistols including 357 Magnum revolvers stolen in Melbourne could be used during a bikie conflict.
A circular sent to police after Thursday morning's theft, from Huntingdale in the southeastern suburbs, outlines the risk associated with the guns being stolen during a period of high bikie tension.
Stolen by masked burglars were three .357 Magnums, a Glock 9mm, a Tanfoglio 38, two CZ 9mm semi-autos and a Heckler and Koch 9mm semi-auto.
The bandits, who used boltcutters to get into 14 strongboxes, were in and out of the North Rd property within minutes.
But while major bikie clubs are agitated, it is the smaller "feeder" clubs that pose as the major threat in sparking a war.
It is believed "feeder" clubs such as the Bandidos-aligned Diablos, the Rebels-backed Death Before Dishonour, Raiders and others are acting as "puppets" for bigger clubs.
Hells Angels members have been riding in numbers along the Mornington Peninsula for the past six months in support of its supporter club the Raiders, which have moved into Frankston.
The establishment of Bandidos supporter club Diablos metres from Hells Angels-aligned Satan's Soldiers in a Melton industrial park is believed to have sparked this month's ambush on Bandido members, during which gunmen wounded Bandido sergeant-at-arms Toby Mitchell.
Mitchell has remained active with the Bandidos but has a bodyguard.
In another worrying trend, drug dealers and legitimate creditors are increasingly turning to bikies to collect debts.
In one case, a flashy Melbourne businessman was bashed and his possessions stolen by members of a notorious outfit.
They are said to have been chasing a $50,000 debt on behalf of a cocaine trafficker.
Members of another outlaw gang turned up at the stable of a Melbourne horse trainer looking for the address of a man who had run a betting scam in which scores of people's fingers were burnt.
The Comancheros' national run will descend on Melbourne next month.
It will be followed by a party at their Hallam chapter.