The Thomastown headquarters of the Hells Angels was the first address on the hit list of Victoria’s new anti-fortification law enforcers.
Echo Taskforce members slapped a notice on the Lipton Drive clubhouse of the Hells Angels’ Nomads chapter (pictured) last week, demanding the place be stripped of its steel gates, high fence, reinforced door and night-vision CCTV cameras.
The Nomads chapter is believed to be an enforcement arm of the Hells Angels, and the Thomastown clubhouse has been raided by police several times this year, most recently on October 10 during the largest police operation in Victoria’s history of targeting gangs.
Last month’s raids involved more than 700 officers who raided 60 properties, many of them in Melbourne’s north, and seized guns, cash, drugs and a variety of other weapons and explosives.
During another raid last year, police forced their way into the Thomastown clubhouse by removing a steel gate with explosives.
While the Nomads are first to cop the force of the new laws tailored to combat Australia’s organised crime networks, the action won’t end there. Federal Justice Minister Michael Keenan, with Premier Denis Napthine at his side, on Wednesday announced a strike team to combat motorcycle gangs as part of the
$64 million National Anti-Gangs Taskforce.
The team, comprising officers from Victoria Police, Federal Police and the Australian Taxation Office, will work with the Melbourne-based Organised Crime Taskforce to create an intelligence hub focused on motorcycle gangs and their criminal associations.
“These gangs are the public face of organised crime in Australia, responsible for the illicit drug trade, vehicle rebirthing, firearms trafficking, money laundering, extortion, prostitution, property crime and corruption,” Mr Keenan said.
“Strong intelligence is key to helping our police agencies stay one step ahead of outlaw motorcycle gangs’ illicit activities.
“I will create a national, one-stop-shop for intelligence on outlaw motorcycle gangs by placing the Australian Anti-Gangs Intelligence Centre within the Australian Crime Commission, the hub of Australia’s criminal intelligence holdings,” he said.
Victoria’s Attorney-General, Robert Clark, said this month that stronger laws would make it harder for bikies to delay and prevent entry to police.
“If these fortifications can be removed, it will strip a layer of protection that these gangs have,” Mr Clark said.
The Hells Angels will be able to challenge the order to remove its clubhouse fortifications during a Melbourne Magistrates Court hearing scheduled for November 28.