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Heavy escort: Rebels ride into capital


29 Mar, 2011 07:53 AM

Police stopped almost 100 bikies on the Federal Highway near Collector at the weekend in a massive random drug, alcohol and compliance check.

The members of the Rebels Motorcycle Club streamed into the ACT on Saturday as part of a memorial ride for Richard ''Rebel Rick'' Roberts, who was shot dead in Chisholm two years ago.

Rebels national president Alex Vella was among the 98 riders who rode to Canberra from the Rebels' Leppington clubhouse in Sydney under heavy police escort.

The memorial ride, which has become an annual undertaking of the club, commemorates Mr Roberts, a senior Rebels member who was shot dead with a shotgun at close range by Russell Field, of Chisholm. The ACT Supreme Court found Field not guilty of murder earlier this month.

The Rebels were ''road managed'' by officers from NSW's specialist anti-bikie unit Strike Force Raptor for the duration of the ride.

At the checkpoint, police issued 20 traffic infringement notices, 10 defect notices, one infringement notice for offensive language, and arrested one rider who failed a drug test.

Police also identified a suspended rider, and issued 20 notices for excessive noise.

The ride coincided with a Tattoo and Bike show put on by Canberra's southside Rebels on Saturday.

NSW Police gangs squad commander Detective Superintendent Arthur Katsogiannis said club members had been mostly cooperative during the operation.

''Apart from the one person who gave a few expletives ... the whole group was very cooperative.''

Strike Force Raptor, which was set up in 2009 to target outlaw motorcycle gangs, celebrated its second-year anniversary on Sunday.

The Strike Force has been at the forefront of police efforts to quell Sydney's bikie wars, laying a total of 2904 charges, responding to 6416 incidents, and executing 151 search warrants over two years.

The intensity of the strike force's efforts, combined with the tough anti-bikie legislation introduced in NSW in 2009, created speculation that gangs like the Bandidos and the Comancheros could shift some operations to the ACT.

But Superintendent Katsogiannis said there was no evidence of that occurring.

''There's certainly no evidence that I'm aware of that indicates that some of these groups are moving towards Canberra,'' he said.

''The chapters and clubhouses are still there in the areas they were always in prior to Raptor,'' he said.






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