Friday, 10 February 2012

Bikie Focarelli loses bail bid in SA Comanchero bikie boss Vincenzo Focarelli has lost a court bid to attend the funeral of his slain son.

 As police plan a strong presence at today's funeral of slain gang member Giovanni Focarelli, the Australian Crime Commission says the gangs have changed their rules in an effort to recruit and groom members from motorcycle clubs and street gangs. In an attempt to counter declining membership and strengthen their position against rival gangs, groups have evolved from a core of Caucasian males to more diverse mixes, the commission says. Many gangs now include members with Middle Eastern backgrounds - some who don't even ride motorcycles - and younger members recruited from street gangs. The commission says as well as increased violence, this has led to aggressive expansion and control of illicit markets and less respect for the unwritten rules of the "traditional biker". "Some outlaw motorcycle gangs are recruiting street gangs and their members to assist in the distribution of illicit drugs and contraband," ACC chief executive John Lawler said. "Some of these gang members are later recruited and become fully-patched members." Police will today monitor the funeral of Giovanni Focarelli as his father Vince, the leader of the Comancheros in Adelaide, yesterday lost what the Supreme Court of South Australia was told was a heartfelt bid to get bail attend the funeral of his oldest son. Vince Focarelli was wounded and Giovanni, 22, was killed in an ambush in an Adelaide suburb last month. Only if the Department of Correctional Services agree will Focarelli attend the funeral at a mosque in West Torrens today. Focarelli, 37, was moved from hospital earlier today where he had been recovering from gunshot wounds. The Department for Correctional Services (DCS) said the 37-year-old was moved under secure escort to a high security facility today. "DCS also advises that an application for compassionate leave from that remandee to attend a funeral has been refused," the department said in a statement. "They key reasons for refusing the request include the risks presented to the safety of the public and the safety and security of the prisoner involved." He failed in two court bids this week to get bail, even if only to attend the service, because of what police said was a "real danger" of another attempt on his life. The courts said that could impact the public, especially at the mosque during Friday prayers. Police would not comment on their operation today. They say Focarelli won't help them find the killer of his son and has refused protection. They arrested and charged him with trafficking drugs and a breach of bail after allegedly finding 413 grams of the liquid drug butanediol in his car after the shooting. He had flagged down a police car to get help for his son. Speaking on the recruitment process of the bikie gangs Mr Lawler said one South Australian bikie chapter actively had enlisted from a street gang with members aged between 13 and 17 years. "Over a short period of time, the recruits from the street gang not only became fully-patched members, but asserted themselves as prominent group members," he said. SA Police Assistant Commissioner (Crime) Grant Stevens agreed bikie groups were more diverse but said a culture of extreme violence had always existed. "We know their culture of violence is such that members and associates take any opportunity to intimidate and cause harm and use violence to further their criminal activities," he said. Mr Stevens said eight temporary detectives joining the Crime Gangs Task Force would bolster police operations to disrupt bikie activity. "Major Crime has responsibility for the Giovanni Focarelli murder and other crime areas, such as the Drug Investigation Branch and Organised Crime Investigation Branch, conduct investigations which support the Crime Gangs Task Force," he said. A new management plan to come into effect next month means every area of the state's police will contribute in some way to monitor gang members and their associates. "The management plan will result in a greater focus on the activities of all outlaw motorcycle gang members wherever they might be at any time," Mr Stevens said. Under the new plan, the Crime Gangs Task Force will direct police officers to target gang members in their local service areas. They will enforce bail and warrant matters, while also playing a greater role in investigating bikie associates over street-level drug dealing and associated offences.

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