Concern at bike gang setting up in Whangarei
Updated 2 minutes ago
Whangarei's police chief says the arrival of a new criminal gang in the city is disturbing and he will do all he can to evict it.
The Australian-based Rebels motorcycle gang set up base over Easter in a vacant warehouse on Porowini Avenue, attracting a large police presence in the process, and launched its arrival with a fund-raising run for Christchurch.
Inspector Paul Dimery says most of the gang's Northland members have been patched over from the Tribesmen gang - best known for dealing methamphetamine - and several are before the courts on serious drug charges.
Going by the gang's history, he says, its next step will be to set up a sports gym to recruit young people to its ranks.
Inspector Dimery says people in Whangarei are alarmed the gang has been able to rent premises in the town and he plans to contact the building's owner to find out more.
The mayor, Morris Cutforth, says the council may follow Whanganui's example and ban patches but would want to make sure it had the legal right to do so first.
'Everything's above board' - gang
For their part, the Rebels say their new headquarters in Whangarei will be drug-free and crime-free, and the move is a genuine attempt to help the city's youth.
A spokesperson who wants to be known just as Bernard says some former Northland Tribesmen have joined the Rebels but they are the ones who no longer use or deal in P.
"We're a motorcycle club and we're all enthusiastic about bikes," Bernard says. "A few of us are passionate about helping the youth and a few of us are passionate about business and a few of us are passionate about doing their own thing and enjoying each others' camaraderie. But everything's above board."
Bernard says 60% of the Rebels in Whangarei have jobs, and the organisation has businesses producing car theft alarms and clay garden pots.
Mr Cutforth says the gang is trying to win over locals but he believes it is all just a spin.