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Bikie gang leader Vince Focarelli under threat in prison

Vince Focarelli

Vince Focarelli outside his Hindley St tattoo parlour Picture: Andrea Laube Source: The Advertiser

BIKIE leader Vince Focarelli has been placed in protective custody after safety threats from other prisoners.

Now leader of the fledgling South Australian chapter of the Comancheros, Focarelli, who was arrested for breaching parole conditions, is now being held in the Adelaide Remand Centre following a risk assessment of his "situation", which identified possible threats to his safety.

Senior Correctional Services managers deemed the risk of housing Focarelli in Yatala Labour Prison too great because of the number of rival Hells Angels associates held there.

Focarelli has survived two attempts on his life over the past year as the long-running dispute between the Hells Angels and the New Boys street gang simmered.

More than a dozen New Boys members, including Focarelli, have joined the Comancheros bikie gang - also bitter rivals of the Hells Angels.

While declining to comment on individual prisoner movements, Correctional Services chief executive Peter Severin said prisoners such as Focarelli were initially placed in an area where "we have a very high level of control" pending the risk assessment.

"Once that is completed he would be moved into a normal mainstream unit, but making sure there are no prisoners identified as potentially not compatible with him," he said.

Focarelli was arrested on a parole warrant after being caught by police in a car in Gouger St with a fellow Comanchero members - a breach of his parole conditions that stipulate he is not to associate with any outlaw motorcycle gang members.

Focarelli was released on parole in September, 2006. He was serving an 11-year, two-month sentence with a non-parole period of six years and six months for offences including heroin and cannabis trafficking, and assault occasioning actual bodily harm. His non-parole period will expire on May 19, which means he is likely to remain in custody until that date.

When police searched the vehicle, that Focarelli was allegedly driving while disqualified, they found a collection of photographs of Comanchero members - including one that features Focarelli with his face concealed. While tensions between the Comancheros and Hells Angels in SA is evident, there have been no major confrontations between the rival gang members so far.

Crime Gangs Task Force detectives involved in Operation Suppress, which was established last February to curtail the activities of New Boys and Hells Angels members, are closely monitoring developments with the Comancheros in SA.

Detective Superintendent Des Bray said it "was possible the formation of this gang may heighten existing tensions" and the activities of all three gangs and their associates would be closely scrutinised.

Since the operation's inception detectives have made 65 arrests for a variety of offences, including attempted murder, conspiracy to kidnap, arson, drug trafficking, firearms offences and violent crime, and thousands of deals of illicit drugs have been seized.

It has also been revealed Focarelli will appear in Adelaide Magistrates Court tomorrow after refusing to co-operate during an Australian Crime Commission coercive hearing.

Focarelli has been charged with one count of refusing to answer questions when required by an examiner at a hearing held in the ACC's Currie St offices on January 24.

He was summonsed to appear at the coercive hearing as part of a major investigation into serious and organised crime being jointly conducted by SAPOL and the ACC.


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