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Saturday, 28 March 2009

Bikie war has never stopped.

Bikie war has never stopped. Since the Milperra massacre in Sydney a quarter of a century ago, it has seethed in the underworld of our main cities, with only a few dumped corpses and bombings occasionally surfacing in the news pages. This is also not the first time bikies have brawled on our streets. In one celebrated clash a few years back, two bikie gangs slugged it out on the steps of the Downing Centre Local Court in Sydney as police and court officials watched on. bikie culture has changed dramatically from the old romantic notion of bikers as big-hearted, big drinking Harley-Davidson lovers who do the odd charity drive for children's hospitals and enjoy the odd bit of biff. While there are still a few of the old-guard bikers who stay away from crime, he says bikie gangs have morphed into highly sophisticated fronts for organised crime and the violent clashes being waged between them for dominance are likely to get worse.
"It's a new violence," he says.
"In the old days the rule was: 'Never at work, never at home, never in front of women and children.' "Nowadays they don't give a shit. They will do it anywhere."

Much was made this week of how the president of the Comancheros bikie gang, Mick Hawi, had banned all his members from wearing their distinctive gang colours or patches or riding their bikes.
This was spun as a conciliatory gesture to ease public fears.
But in the outlaw motorcycle gang fraternity, another explanation was circulating. Talk was that members of the Hell's Angels motorcycle gang had issued a "shoot to kill" order on any Comancheros. "This is a declaration of war," the gang insider says. "All other gang members have been told to keep their heads down or face the consequences." Much of the present bikie wars is a simple battle for dominance between gangs, sparked partly by the entrance on to the local drug dealing scene of a self-styled Middle Eastern bikie gang calling itself Notorious. One factor fuelling this conflict is racial anger among traditional bikies at the "Leb boys" muscling in on their patch. But, as always, it is mostly about the money. As Sunday Night revealed a few weeks ago (despite government claims the trade was now impossible) bikies are still buying huge quantities of over-the-counter cough medicines containing pseudoephedrine and turning them into hugely lucrative speed or ice.
A former methamphetamine cook, Stevan Utah, now on the run from the Bandidos, told how $1000 of cough medicine could earn up to $250,000 "deal for deal" on the street.
Now Notorious wants a piece of the action that bikie gangs have been quietly controlling for years because the money to be made is huge.
"I've been in houses where every room is full of money wrapped up in bundles," the gang insider tells Sunday Night. "They couldn't move it. They need laundromats for the money." The view among the traditional bikie gang fraternity is that Notorious is not a genuine motorcycle gang at all but a criminal gang that is using the brand value of being a bikie gang to add cachet and fear to their efforts to muscle in on to the Sydney drug scene. They have even created their own patch and its publication in one Sydney newspaper served only to enhance the desired feared reputation. What Notorious has learned is what bikie gangs in Australia have known for years: police are reluctant to confront bikies.
"The cops are scared of them," the gang insider says. "They have lost control. Gang members are caught with guns, drugs or shooting people, and they get a bit of community service. It's a pussyfoot approach. Anybody else would get the book thrown at them but these guys get away with it." This week, one self-styled gang expert proclaimed that police and politicians should bring gang leaders together to broker a peace before a feud escalates. The same academic also naively suggested in the pages of another Sydney newspaper that outlaw motorcycle gangs "perform an invaluable social service by keeping some ofthe most disturbed and unstable members of society in check through rigid internal structures".
Gang insiders laugh at such claims. They say that to dignify the gangs' inflated sense of their own importance by brokering some implicit peace deal through them is precisely what is wrong with present policing approaches. Whatever any gang leader ever told the police, he would do anything to stay dominant. And even if gangs are banned by the proposed new laws, the killings will continue on behind the scenes as they have done for decades. The only way to nip the gangs in the bud is to harass their control of the drugs trade with the sort of anti-racketeering laws used in the US that target the money that drives the crime. One of the reasons Notorious's entrance on to the bikie scene is so threatening is because, as the money rolls in, they are wooing Middle Eastern gang members from other gangs, such as the Hell's Angels, Comancheros and Bandidos.

This is a direct threat to the institutional control of the main gangs because most "full-patched" gang members know too much about the gang's dealer network and protection rackets to be allowed to leave. To be inside the gang is all too often to be privy to a major criminal enterprise. "Nobody can walk away," the gang insider says. "You can retire or step back but never walk away. If they go to another club, they give all the club secrets away, all the areas they deal. Many of the shootings in recent weeks are a case of: 'You steal our f--ing drugs and this is what happens."'
Anzac Day is traditionally a big day on the bikie calendar and this year it is likely to be a flashpoint for further violence. The speculation is that the Hell's Angels will not brook anything less than complete capitulation by the Comancheros as a sub-club of the Angels. Anything else would be bad for business.

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