Cracks showing in Rebel's plan
CLOUD OVER CITY: A flashback to last year (above) when the Rebels arrived with a bang. Inspector Paul Dimery (right) says violence could erupt over a gang fallout.
Tensions between rival gangs over defecting members could boil over to the detriment of innocent members of the public, say police.
It appears the Rebels Motorcycle gangs rapid expansion in the region is slowing with a number of Tribesmen going back to their former gang. Australia's largest outlaw motorcycle gang the Rebels began taking over the Tribesmen in a rebranding process known as "patching over" in January 2011.
But now tensions are rising.
Whangarei/Kaipara area commander Paul Dimery said had a clear message about not tolerating the gang when he addressed Whangarei District Council's monthly meeting this week, asking the community to reject gangs.
"The battle is likely to result in violence and probably will involve innocent members of the public. Until Whangarei and Northland as a whole stands up and says they are not wanted, they are criminals and they offer nothing to our community, they will continue to be a blight," Mr Dimery said.
"When the community stands up and says the gangs are not wanted the power goes back to the decent people in the community."
He said of particular note was one member who appeared to have been involved with the Tribesmen, Rebels, the Nomads and associated with Black Power as well as the youth gangs he grew up with.
A criminologist, studying the history of gangs in New Zealand for 10 years, Doctor Jarrod Gilbert said it was an unusual move for patched over members to go back to their original gang.
He said the Rebels patching over was the biggest in New Zealand history.
Rebels were known for their rapid expansion and the tensions now were "growing pains", Mr Gilbert said. He did not think members of the public would be caught in the crossfire.
"Gangs are not as violent as they once were. They usually keep the violence to themselves."
Mr Gilbert said police vigilance in times of potential gang conflict was warranted.
The increasing strain between the opposing gangs became evident during Waitangi weekend when police had to intervene.
The Rebels began their reach into Northland last Easter when they held at open day at a building in Porowini Ave, a commercial area in Whangarei.
Police said it was a publicity stunt to hide the fact they were recruiting members. The gang claimed they were just a social riding group and are helping troubled youth in the area.
By July, after heavy police scrutiny and media attention, the Rebels gang had left the Porowini Ave property.