Bikies bringing war to the suburbs - and why the states are powerless to stop it
April 27, 2012
Three shootings in nine days in SA
Nine men wounded in April in Sydney
States powerless to break up gangs
NSW police commissioner Andrew Scipione fears the country is moving toward a gangland American gun culture.
He might be right.
The spates of gun-related violence linked to bikie turf and drug wars has shifted around the country and intensified in the past few months.
In 2012 alone, there have been 52 recorded shooting incidents involving bikies and organised crime groups.
At the moment, it's South Australia's turn.
In the past week, Adelaide residents have been exposed to three shooting incidents linked to bikie activity in the past nine days.
The latest at 5.10am yesterday saw a vacant caravan sprayed with up to 12 bullets in a drive-by shooting in the city's northern suburbs.
The Adelaide Advertiser reports that police claim the shooting was an ongoing dispute between the Finks and Hells Angels. A bikie gang associate had been staying in the caravan.
Queensland, Victoria and Western Australia have all seen a procession of bikies troop through their court systems this year for crimes ranging from attempted murder to theft, extortion, drug offences, arson and assault.
The majority of charges involve the use of illegal firearms.
Nine men have suffered gunshot wounds during 19 shootings in Sydney just this month.
Ten days ago, there were five drive-by incidents in the city's west in one night.
Four of the locations were linked to the Hells Angels and police suspect they were targeted by the Nomads in retaliation for a drive-by shooting a day earlier.
Police today raided 18 properties, including the home of Nomads bikie member Sam Ibrahim as part of an investigation into the drive-bys.
The raids are part of Strike Force Kinnarra, set up last week to probe an ongoing feud between the Nomads and Hells Angels. Ibrahim's home still sported bullet holes in the walls and windows.
Mr Scipione is on the record saying the days of turf crimes being "resolved with a punch-up... appear to have gone".
"Perhaps we're moving down the American path where these sorts of disputes are resolved on the end of a handgun," he said.
Which isn't exactly comforting for those who live in suburbs where bikies are being shot at or their clubhouses are under attack.
And no comfort at all for the growing and increasingly restless regular folk that believe the only way to stamp the violence out is to stamp the clubs out.
Because how can police fight organised crime when there's essentially no legislation that stops criminals getting organised?
What they're doing about it
NSW tried to introduce anti-gang laws in 2009 after the brawl at Sydney Airport which left the brother of a Hells Angel member dead.
The laws gave the NSW State Supreme Court the right to declare bikie gangs as outlaws and force members to avoid each other.
But in June last year, the Hells Angel won a High Court challenge to have the laws scrapped, claiming the law could impinge on individual freedom.
The SA government lost a similar High Court battle in 2010.
NSW introduced new legislation in February that allows police to apply to the NSW Supreme Court to have a gang outlawed. The advice given to NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell is that a successful application would withstand a High Court challenge.
But even Mr O'Farrell has his doubts. He and several other state leaders believe the only ironclad solution is for the Federal Government to step in and introduce national anti-bikie laws which can't be challenged in the High Court.
And up to a point, the Federal Goverment agrees, proposing national uniform anti-bikie laws.
The problem? Tasmania, Queensland and the ACT don't want a bar of it.
"As part of this discussion, the Commonwealth offered to consider a single national law if the states referred their powers," a spokesman for Federal Attorney-General, Nicola Roxon, told the Adelaide Advertiser last week.
"However, this was rejected by states and territories."
A key aspect of the legislation would be ensuring mutual recognition of each state's orders, the Advertiser reports.
"South Australia already has strong anti-bikie laws and our hope is that all states enact strong laws that can effectively combat organised crime," the spokesman said.
In NSW, Mr O'Farrell has proposed to amend the Crimes Act to include tattoo parlours on a list of businesses banned from involvement by declared criminal organisations.
He's also moved to ban bikies wearing their colours at 58 licensed Kings Cross venues.
Where are the guns coming from?
On the problem of gun violence, the Federal Opposition wants an independent inquiry into why Australia Post and Australian Customs are failing to detect illegal guns being smuggled into the country.
In March, police smashed an international ring operating through a southern Sydney post office which was responsible for smuggling 200 Glock handguns into the country.
Another scheme involved the importation of AR-15 military assault rifles from the US.
The Government said the problem was much larger, with the majority of guns on the street being stolen or too old to trace.
"In NSW alone, about 7000 guns have been stolen by criminals in the past 12 years and not recovered - that's 7000 unsolved gun crimes," Home Affairs Minister Jason Clare.
BIKIE VIOLENCE IN THE NEWS... THIS MONTH
Last week, an internal feud between Hells Angels bikie gang members led to one man being shot up to four times by a fellow member at Croydon Park, just after midnight.
On Monday, eight shots were fired into a family home from a vacant block next door. A man that police said had links to the Comancheros was on the verandah while his wife and three children were just metres away in the family car.
Finks sergeant-at-arms Richard Michail was jailed last week after assaulting a car dealer and driving away in a $400K Lamborghini, demanding $50K for its return.
Two suspected Hells Angels bikie gang associates charged over firing on a unit block in Merrylands.
Comanchero boss Mahmoud "Mick" Hawi jailed for 21 years after being found guilty of the murder of Hells Angels member's brother Anthony Zervas at Syndey Airport.
Hells Angel accused of burning police patrol car outside his tattoo parlour.
Rock Machine member Benjamin Sipkes found guilty of shooting WA Rebels president Nick Martin.
Three Rebels charged over the violent assault and kidnap of 21-year-old man.
Hells Angels evicted from pub nearby Bandidos clubhouse on the Gold Coast a day after Bandido-protected tattoo parlour shot up.