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February 26, 2011
POWERFUL high-grade explosives have been seized from a bikie clubhouse, sparking police concerns of an escalating war between rival gangs the Rock Machine and the Rebels.
Senior police said expert intelligence suggested enough explosive detonators and industrial-strength powergel to demolish a small building had been uncovered during a raid of the Rock Machine's new Myaree headquarters Friday night. Some were secreted in a roof cavity.
Officers, including the heavily-armed Tactical Response Group, stormed the McCoy St building at 7pm, uncovering 68 explosive detonators and 55 sticks of powergel along with an unlicensed sawn-off shot gun during a search of the premises and a nearby car.
Police will allege that one Rock Machine member, a 42-year-old man, was found in possession of 34 detonators, with 54 sticks of powergel, an explosive commonly used in the mining industry, found in his car.
A stick of
powergel, 34 other detonators and a sawn-off shotgun
were allegedly found at the clubhouse. A safety fuse,
ammunition and steroids were also located, police said.
Nineteen members were arrested at the clubhouse after police busted in on the gang's Friday night ``church night''.
A 42-year-old man was questioned at length and will be charged with the unlawful possession of explosives. The remaining people were released without charge.
Det-Insp Paul McMurtrie said the tension between the Rock Machine and the Rebels was well documented and police would maintain a heightened alert in the wake of the explosives find.
``Our early intervention (on Friday night) demonstrated that we may have averted a serious criminal incident happening. I won't speculate what that could have been,'' Det-Insp McMurtrie said.
``My briefing from our explosive experts is it's certainly enough explosives to demolish a small building and cause extreme loss of life.
``As with all outlaw motorcycle clubs, they recruit to strengthen their numbers and their resolve because as a criminal organisation it's about turf, it's about drug distribution and criminal activity.''
Det-Insp McMurtrie said police would investigate the origin of the explosives, including if they had come from WA mine sites or through fly-in, fly-out workers.
Several houses in Perth's southern suburbs with links to Rock Machine members were also searched as part of the operation and evidence seized.
But police stressed they feud was isolated to the two gangs and did not believe the greater community was at risk of violent attacks.
``There is no intelligence to suggest that this group has any planned violence against the general community,'' Det-Insp McMurtrie said.
The Rock Machine, a Canadian-based gang, emerged in WA about two years ago. The club has about 20 known members and a new clubhouse in Myaree.
Police say the club is at loggerheads with the Rebels, which has about 50 members and four clubhouses in WA, and officers have been monitoring their movements for several months.
Tensions between the two gangs have heightened, with police announcing in November last year that they were investigating whether a tit-for-tat feud between the two clubs was to blame for the firebombing of a Bibra Lake tattoo parlour, owned by a Rebels bikie.
January, Rebels and Rock Machine members were involved
in a fight at The Clink nightclub in Fremantle.
The next day the violence spiked when a Spearwood tattoo parlour linked to a member of the Rock Machine was ransacked by a group of bikies.
The Rock Machine, which has links to the Bandidos, is notorious for a violent turf war with the Hells Angels in Canada between 1994 and 2001, which left 162 people dead, including an 11-year-old boy who was killed when a car bomb exploded in the street where he was playing.
``The Rock Machine is a reasonably new outlaw gang in this state and their criminal antecedence is known throughout the world... They are known for extreme violence and there have been many murders associated with this group,'' Det-Insp McMurtrie said.