Bikies live in fear as tough laws take hold in Victoria
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The strengthened laws banning serious criminals from associating came into effect on July 1, with outlaw bikie figures believed to be the focus.
Members of the gangs, including Comanchero Elvin Bafto, Fink Richard Michail, Hells Angel Peter “Skitzo’’ Hewat and Bandidos president Peter Algie would be considered high-profile targets.
Others, such as jailed former Bandido Toby Mitchell and underworld figures Mohammad Keshtiar and George Marrogi, may also be in the force’s plans because of their connections.
There is nothing preventing authorities from also hitting mafia and other gangs with association bans, such as street gang Apex and prison enforcers Prisoners of War — who have members outside jail.
Bikies, however, are high on the list of targets, although there has been no word on who has been avoiding detection as police prepare to serve known criminals with the anti-association notices. The new consorting law is designed to break up the outlaw bikies if members have serious criminal convictions. Those who receive a notice cannot even have contact via social media.
Although police had called for tougher consorting laws for years, the move came after police warned outlaw bikies were flocking to Victoria because our consorting laws were weaker than other states.
If people banned from associating meet three times in three months, or six times in 12 months, they face up to three years imprisonment and fines up to $54,000.
High-profile bikies have been lying low, knowing that a notice will effectively end their ability to associate with other club members. They are preparing for the Victoria Police anti-bikie Echo taskforce to hit members with dozens of “unlawful association notices’’.
Victoria’s outdated consorting laws were criticised for being too difficult to prosecute, and other legislative attempts at cracking the gangs have fallen flat. The Andrews Government says the new laws will smash criminal networks, including weapons and ice trafficking rings.
To date, no gang or bikie club has been declared an organised crime group under anti-gang laws, despite a brief of evidence having been compiled. Civil rights advocates oppose strengthened consorting laws in the belief it will only send organised crime gangs underground.