Monday, 23 May 2011

MOTORCYCLE gangs across Geelong have been put on notice as part of a police crackdown on outlaw bikies.

Victoria Police yesterday unveiled the Echo Taskforce, a unit created to investigate and prevent outlaw motorcycle gang crime.

Geelong biker Kim Sloan, one of the Bandidos Motorcycle Club's "several" national secretaries, confirmed police had already been in contact with local groups in the lead-up to yesterday's launch.

Mr Sloan said the "friendly reminder" related to ensuring bikers obeyed the law during poker runs and other club activities. He was not particularly concerned by the creation of a taskforce to target motorcycle gangs.

"There's not that much in it (the taskforce), really. We're fine with the police, they're cool," he said.

"This is just expected because of the new government in Victoria and because it was an election promise.

"I think it's a little over the top but it's the Government's directive for the police to do this, so we're not going to take it personally."

The crackdown includes a ban on outlaw bikie gangs fortifying their clubhouses.

There are 24 bikie gangs with 56 clubhouses across Victoria.

A government spokesman said the draft laws would include anti-fortification provisions to stop outlaw bikie gangs setting up clubhouses fortified by protective barricades.

"The Government expects the legislation to be introduced this year," the spokesman said.

The National Crime Authority has in the past reported that the main source of income for bikie gangs revolved around the importation of firearms, drug trafficking, counterfeiting, tax evasion, extortion, money laundering and trafficking in stolen goods. These claims are disputed by most motorcycle clubs.

Geelong hasn't had a major motorcycle gang incident for the past two years. However, a torrid stretch from 2007 to 2009 featured drive-by shootings, a suspected turf war and police raids.

Motorcycle gang crime in Geelong came to a head with the fatal shooting of Bandidos member Ross Brand on October 22, 2008.

In March this year, John Bedson was jailed for 23 years for Mr Brand's murder. His brother Derek was jailed for 12 years for his part in the shooting.

Echo Taskforce member Detective Superintendent Doug Fryer said police would crack down on organised crime, firearms offences, drug activity, illegal links to the alcohol industry and brothels, and any other offences committed by outlaw patched bikies.

"We're obviously aware that not all bikies are involved in organised criminality but those that are will be subject to investigations by Victoria Police," Det Supt Fryer said.

"We're not talking about people who just ride bikes, we're talking about people who brand themselves as outlaws and as outlaw motorcycle gangs. Many of them and most of them have a patch on their jacket of a 1 per cent. The 1 per cent represents that they are the one per cent of the community who are outside the laws and standards of the community."

Major bikie gangs in Geelong include the Bandidos, Rebels, Black Uhlans and Death before Dishonour.

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