Friday, 22 October 2010

BIKIE gangs have infiltrated Victoria's liquor, security and brothel industries as outlaw bikie numbers soar across the nation.

BIKIE gangs have infiltrated Victoria's liquor, security and brothel industries as outlaw bikie numbers soar across the nation.

Victoria's most senior detective said smashing bikie involvement in organised crime was now a high priority for state police.

Deputy Commissioner (Crime) Sir Ken Jones said the number of fully fledged members of outlaw motorcycle gangs in Australia had jumped from 3000 to 4000 in three years.

Sir Ken said the force's previous position that bikie gangs were not a high priority in Victoria "certainly isn't the view now".

A meeting of senior police, detectives and intelligence officers from across the state at police headquarters next Friday will draw up bikie battle plans.

Sir Ken confirmed that bikies were active in the security industry, nightclubs and brothels as a means of enhancing their involvement in drug dealing.

He was aware of unconfirmed reports that one gang had recently offered $1.7 million to buy a hotel in Mildura.

Any bikie involvement in the liquor industry or brothels was a cause of great concern, he said.

"Their traditional modus operandi centres on those types of industries, drug dealing within those sorts of premises and standover with competitors," he said.

"We know from experience that is an area where they will focus on the provision of security, which becomes a gateway for dealing in drugs, often ecstasy and amphetamines.

"This is just hard fact, evidenced from convictions of people involved in this activity around Australia."

The Herald Sun revealed a year ago that the Comancheros and the Finks had moved into Victoria for the first time.

Sir Ken said there was increased visibility of bikies and new chapters being set up.

But he rejected suggestions Victoria had become a magnet for outlaw bikies because of softer laws.

He said coercive powers, wire taps and consorting laws were all being used to disrupt gang activity.

He said police would aim at organised crime "but not just target a lifestyle".

Sir Ken - a keen motorcyclist who until recently rode a Harley-Davidson - said the force's Echo taskforce, formed to investigate gang issues, would oversee new efforts to tackle bikie gangs.

He said next week's meeting would discuss a new approach to gathering intelligence and "make sure we're all on the same page".

The force was introducing a central intelligence department based on a model that had been successful in the US, Canada and Europe.

"I'm looking for a much more assertive intelligence gathering strategy, because frankly that's our best hope of keeping across this," he said.

A 54-strong NSW police taskforce formed after a fatal bikie brawl at Sydney airport in March last year made 724 arrests in its first 12 months, seized 174 guns, $1 million in cash and large quantities of drugs.

Sir Ken said he did not believe the scale and intensity of motorcycle gang crime in Victoria was of the same magnitude as in NSW, "but I don't want to minimise it".

Sir Ken said fortified bikie clubhouses sent a bad message to the community.

"These people are entitled to associate, they're entitled to have a club and all the rest of it, but they're not entitled to put dangerous fortifications in place," he said.


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