June 5, 2016 11:00am
A VICIOUS bikie gang’s attempted expansion into Tasmania’s reputed ice heartland could stir violence between rival clubs, an expert says.
Tasmania Police revealed last week the feud-prone Bandidos were attempting to establish themselves in the state.
Local and federal police recently swooped on three Bandidos associates at Devonport Airport, allegedly finding them with ice, cocaine and a stolen motorbike.
“They are not considered fully patched Bandidos members but do display their allegiance to this gang,” Assistant Commissioner Glenn Frame said.
“Our intervention is a significant disruption to their plans.”
Former detective Terry Goldsworthy, an assistant professor at Bond University, said any violence depended on what kind of bikie landscape the Bandidos were rolling into.
“Where are they moving into would be the question. Are they moving into areas that have been colonised by the gangs?’’ Dr Goldsworthy said.
“If they are moving into those areas there’d certainly be friction.”
According to Tasmania Police, there are more than 250 bikies and associates across five organised gangs – the Rebels, the Outlaws, the Black Uhlans, Satans Riders and Devils Henchmen. There are 16 bikie gang clubhouses.
The three Bandidos associates arrested at the airport lived in the North-West, suggesting that is where the gang intends on making its mark. If that is the case they will rub shoulders with Tasmania’s most notorious bikies.
The Rebels, the Outlaws and the Black Uhlans have been expanding operations in the North-West.
Mr Frame suggested drugs were the motivation for the Bandidos’ planned incursion.
“Outlaw motorcycle clubs are always trying to expand their criminal organisation and use their business model to increase their profit from illegal activities,” he said.
“Australia’s profitable markets for illicit goods, in particular illicit drugs, drive OMCGs [outlaw motorcycle gangs] to these illegal activities.”
Dr Goldsworthy agreed a move to Tasmania was more likely to be criminal intent than a lifestyle change.
“If you’re looking at people who are going there to commit criminal activity, what markets are there, what type of drug usage problems have they got?” he said.
“Is there a market they can break into and will it be possible for them? [That] would be the underpinning things for those that are coming there for a criminal enterprise purpose.”
Ice or methamphetamine in the North-West has grabbed national attention in recent years.
In 2014 Rural Health Tasmania chief executive Robert Waterman said he had seen a 10-fold increase in the use of ice in the region. He said one in 10 people were addicted to the drug in Smithton.
The region’s ice problem featured in a Four Corners expose and on 7.30 on ABC-TV.
A subsequent government report found ice use in the North-West was rising but it equated to similar increases elsewhere across the country and was not an epidemic.
The Bandidos first came to national attention in the early 1980s after a massacre on the outskirts of Sydney.
The club was formed by a bunch of disgruntled Comancheros who had jumped ship.
When the newly formed Bandidos – who received the nod of approval from the club’s US president – and Comancheros encountered each other in the carpark of a Sydney pub it resulted in the country’s deadliest bikie confrontation.
The Milperra massacre, carried out in broad daylight on a Father’s Day, left six bikies dead along with bystander Leanne Walters, aged 14.
The Bandidos have maintained their penchant for violence over the years.
“The Bandidos [on the Gold Coast] are one of the gangs with a high level of criminality,” Dr Goldsworthy said.
“The statistics would tell us they are one of the groups that commit more of the crime when you’re talking about bikies.”
Mr Frame said Bandidos and other OMCGs “were not welcome here at all”.
“While the possibility of violence can’t be discounted, we are confident our efforts will reduce this possibility,” he said.
Law enforcement like to portray OMCGs as the manifestation of evil while bikies would prefer the community to see them as gruff blokes who deliver soft toys to sick kids.
Dr Goldsworthy said the truth was in the middle.
“Anyone who says all bikies are criminals, well the statistics say that is not the case,” he said.
“The police do try to portray them as all criminals. The converse is the bikes say, ‘we are just like a rowing club’. Well clearly they’re not.”
Dr Goldsworthy said that in Queensland about 40 per cent of bikies had criminal records in 2014.
He said the gangs were not specifically embroiled in organised crime, it was select individuals within the group.
“They have a criminal element. Some of them don’t commit crime, they just go there for the image,” he said.
“There are others who go there to use that brand for criminal purposes.”
Mr Frame said Tasmanian bikies had proven links to mainland OMCG chapters and international crime syndicates involved in the manufacture, distribution and trafficking of illicit drugs and firearms.
“We will continue to hold them to account,” he said.
Source : The Mercury