Both State and Federal governments in Australia declared war on criminal motorcycle gangs early in October, throwing the full force of the Law at biker gangs which have been terrorising major urban areas in recent months.
The Queensland State Government has taken the lead, offering $5 million (almost R50 million) in reward money for information leading to the prosecution of offending bikies, and the Federal Government has offered its support, as well as concerted action by the Federal Police and the Australian Tax Office, which will target ill-gotten gains from drug-dealing, protection rackets and extortion.
Australia’s outlaw motorcycle gangs have a vaguely-American origin. They include the Hell’s Angels, Bandido’s, Rebels and Finks, and the authorities claim that they have a combined membership of 4, 483, spread over 179 chapters and featuring 44 individual gangs, mainly in the eastern seaboard states. Recent excesses include inter-gang violence as they duel over perceived “territories”, public riots and violence against “protected” shopkeepers.
There have been several deaths, and many injuries, and some of the larger gangs claim to “rule” particular urban areas—notably on Queensland’s Gold Coast. Their latest strategy has been to recruit young, muscular gymnasium members—very often of Middle Eastern origin—as “enforcers”, and the gangs have well-established commercial ventures, including night clubs, gyms and tattoo parlours.
Their defiance of police, lawcourts and civil authorities has triggered a concerted reaction by the State and Federal authorities, with special police squads and fiscal investigators clamping down on the outlaw gangs in their clubhouses and gathering-places. There have been multiple arrests, and (in spite of making defiant noises) the gangs had been keeping a low profile at time of writing. But there are fears of gang retaliation, so security around business places – and even the homes of public figures such as the State Premier – has been increased.
Last week, the internet was in uproar about the recent actions of unruly motorcyclists in New York City, which included an altercation with the driver of a Range Rover. Click here to watch footage from NYC