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LUKE ELIOT, The West Australian January 25, 2011, 5:46 am
Police drove an armoured vehicle fitted with a battering ram through the front gate of the Rebels bikie gang's Osborne Park headquarters yesterday.
The armed search came as officers stepped up their inquiries into a weekend of violence between feuding Rebels and Rock Machine bikies.
The raid was one of at least three carried out across Perth yesterday in response to the ongoing feud.
Heavily armed tactical response group officers stormed the industrial unit, near Scarborough Beach Road, shortly before 5pm.
The force of the impact from the Bearcat armoured truck knocked over a metal mezzanine level at the clubhouse.
TRG officers used an angle grinder to cut through a security gate and threw stun grenades into the building.
About a dozen Rebels bikies, including State president Nick Martin, gathered at the clubhouse soon after the raids, prompting detectives to call for more TRG officers as back-up.
Mr Martin had a heated exchange with police and claimed that officers found nothing during their search.
He said police should pay for the extensive damage to the clubhouse.
But police are unapologetic for the damage and actions they say were carried out during a high risk search warrant executed on a premises.
“Police attended the club house to search for evidence and secure it.
"The warrant, which was executed under the Criminal Investigation Act, empowered police to use reasonable force to gain entry to the specified premises named in that warrant,” Specialist Crime Assistant Commissioner Nick Anticich said.
“This allowed police to defeat the premises’ fortification to affect entry. This fortification is not designed to protect people or property - its sole purpose is to thwart police in gaining entry and permit time to destroy evidence.
“It enables OMCGs such in this case to commit offences within their fortified walls - these are nothing more than ‘Criminal Fortresses’.
“Simply said, the clubhouse was damaged because it had been fortified and significant force was required to affect entry. The people of Western Australia should not have to accept this class of premises within their community.”
Last night, gang crime squad officers were interviewing two gang members over the tit-for-tat skirmishes, which started with an exchange at the Balmoral Hotel in Victoria Park on Friday night.
On Saturday, Rebels and Rock Machine members were involved in a fight at The Clink nightclub in Fremantle.
The violence escalated on Sunday when a Spearwood tattoo parlour linked to a member of the Rock Machine was trashed by up to 20 bikies.
Later that night, bikies were linked to a violent home invasion in Perth's southern suburbs.
Tensions between the two gangs have escalated in recent months and included a firebombing at a Bibra Lake tattoo parlour and a street fight in North Fremantle.
Police claim the tension is a turf war over drug dealing, but underworld sources say it is over prior associations of gang members.