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Liberal MP calls for Federal Government to get tough on Victoria’s Apex gang

FEDERAL bikie-busters would be called in to break up the Apex gang under a proposal from Liberal MP and former police officer Jason Wood.

Mr Wood, who wrote the Coalition’s successful anti-gangs policy, said federal task forces targeting bikies and organised crime groups should be expanded to include violent street gangs such as Apex.

As well, Mr Wood said consideration should be given to new immigration laws where dual national citizens could be deported if they commit any crime of violence, in a gang context, that lands them a jail sentence.

Currently, only permanent residents who sexually abuse children or receive a jail sentence of more than 12 months are deported.

Mr Wood, the member for the Victorian seat of La Trobe, said the law and order crisis caused by the Apex gang should be a state issue but “the State Government has not been able to stop them’’.

He said federal intervention could help police target the 400-strong Apex gang, which comprises mainly juvenile offenders but has committed a string of violent home invasions and carjackings across suburban Melbourne and is developing increasingly strong ties with bikies and Middle Eastern and Eastern European crime syndicates.

Federal MP for Latrobe Jason Wood. Picture: Chris Eastman

Mr Wood has discussed his proposals with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Immigration and Border Protection Minister Peter Dutton.

He said Apex and other violent street gangs could be targeted by the Australian Gangs Intelligence Co-ordination Centre, which comprises investigators from the tax office, Department of Human Services, state and federal police, the Australian Crime Commission and Border Force, which systematically destroys gangs by targeting their leaders.

The National Anti-Gang Squad could also focus on Apex and other violent gangs of street thugs.

Both these organisations currently focus on outlaw motorcycle gangs and organised crime syndicates, but Mr Wood said the policy was originally written with all violent gangs in mind.

Mr Wood also said Apex should be “ranked’’ according to the threat it posed, and that Australia should follow the lead of Britain and the US by including street gangs in its ranking system, which would have allowed earlier surveillance of Apex, which grew over several years but mostly stayed under the radar.

“There is a view that this is a State Government responsibility but the Federal Government can play a role,’’ Mr Wood said.

He said it was vital young Apex gang members were stopped before they ended up in adult prisons and came under the influence of bikies and Islamic extremists who were known to be recruiting in Barwon Prison.