Thursday, 26 April 2012

Bikie feud revs up on the Gold Coast

BIKIE tensions continued to escalate yesterday as Hells Angels members were evicted from the Mermaid Beach Tavern -- within walking distance of the Bandidos clubhouse and the tattoo parlour that was shot up on Tuesday morning. The Hells Angels -- not in colours -- were drinking at the tavern and refused to leave when asked by management. Police descended on the tavern just after 3pm and confronted the bikies to force them to leave. Once outside the Hells Angels complained they were "just having a drink on Anzac Day". One member waited until police left then revved his Harley at traffic lights before running a red light and driving into traffic. Police said the choice of the Mermaid Beach Tavern was deliberate and came less than two days after a nearby Bandido-protected tattoo parlour was sprayed with bullets. The Hells Angels are not based on the Coast but have been pushing to open a chapter in the city. Their club is based at Tradelink Drive at Browns Plains and senior club members have been pushing for a slice of the lucrative Gold Coast party precinct. Police fear the violence will escalate as the Angels continue to muscle in on Coast turf. The Coast has been relatively stable after the gangs met at a neutral Carrara bar to divide territory a number of years ago, with the Finks taking Surfers Paradise and the Bandidos Broadbeach. Gang sources say there is no room for the Angels and the bikies will resist any move by the glamour club to move in on the Coast. Despite Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson declaring bikie gangs the "greatest challenge to face law enforcement", Queensland Premier Campbell Newman played down the threat when he likened bikies in gang colours to football supporters clad in jerseys. The Premier on Tuesday said he did not support "some sort of artificial construct to try to capture a particular group", instead saying his Government would focus on punishing real crime. "But as a principle, the team that I lead believe that you shouldn't be sort of penalised for wearing your footy team uniform or jersey," he said. "Crime is what you should be punished for." Mr Newman's comments have been celebrated in bikie forums but police have labelled the comments as "naive and misguided". Detectives on Tuesday denied there was a bikie turf war on the Gold Coast. But Task Force Hydra, set up to fight outlaw motorcycle gangs in Queensland, has been called in to help the investigation. The Serious and Violent Crime Squad has also been called in to assist.

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