October 10, 2013 – 9:25AM
Nino Bucci, Jessica Wright and Thomas O’Byrne
Police have carried out their biggest operation against the Hells Angels outlaw motorcycle gang, with more than 700 officers raiding premises across Victoria.
Acting Deputy Commissioner Steve Fontana said this was the first major operation of its kind to target a specific bikie gang in Victoria.
The Fairfield clubhouse’s gate is removed. Photo: Penny Stephen
Mr Fontana said the operation was aimed at the Hells Angels gang and its affiliates because the gang had been seen as the “aggressor” during recent attacks.
The operation was focused on finding “high-powered, military-style” weapons used in previous attacks on rival gangs, Mr Fontana said.
More than 700 officers from state and federal police were used during the raids, which took place simultaneously at more than 50 premises on Thursday morning.
Police at the scene of the raid. Photo: Penny Stephens
Mr Fontana said the bikies had reacted with “a little bit of panic” to the raids, but no major resistance was encountered.
He added that the raids were considered “high risk” given the heavy fortifications at some clubhouses.
Police confiscated a large amount of drugs and cash during the raids, with at least one person arrested at the Thomastown clubhouse.
Police tore down fencing and signage at the Hells Angels headquarters in Fairfield. Photo: Penny Stephens
Mr Fontana said high-powered weapons were not recovered during the raids, but he was “reasonably confident” they would find them as the day wore on.
Less powerful weapons were recovered from several premises, including handguns and sawn-off shotguns.
Ammunition was also recovered, including at one premises where a truck was required to remove a huge pile of ammunition.
Police also raided the Hells Angels headquarters in Fairfield.
Heavily armed members of the Victoria Police Special Operations Group and Echo Taskforce were on the scene at both clubhouses in Fairfield and Thomastown.
Heidelberg Road in Alphington has been closed in both directions between The Boulevard and Chandler Highway due to the Fairfield raid.
Fairfax Radio reported raids were being conducted at homes and other properties at Somerton, Seaford, Knox, St Albans, Berwick, Myrniong and possibly Brooklyn.
There were also unconfirmed radio reports of bikies travelling en masse on Melbourne’s roads, including about 40 Hells Angels bikies seen travelling north on the Hume Freeway at Craigieburn.
Police have torn down signs and pulled down fencing at the Fairfield and Thomastown clubhouses.
A police spokeswoman said the warrants were part of work being done by Echo Taskforce around recent outlaw motorcycle gang-related incidents and were not part of the new anti-fortification laws introduced on Sunday.
Mr Fontana said police were supported by Customs and Border Control officers and that a large number of weapons as well as drugs and cash had been seized in the raids.
“This is in direct relation to recent firearms activity, these are high-powered weapons we are after, let me be quite clear we are targeting [the Hells Angels] and we make no apologies for that.”
Initial reports indicated a 46-year-old man was arrested at a Hells Angels clubhouse in Fairfield.
Police are using warrants to search both clubhouses and homes across the state, the spokeswoman said.