Sunday, 22 April 2012

Notoriety was main undoing of gang of pseudo-bikies

THE criminal outfit Notorious announced its arrival five years ago with guns literally blazing. It is a pseudo-bikie gang. Bikies without bikes. But that didn't stop its members. They shot at NRL players during a dispute in Kings Cross the night of their ''coming out'' party and gained further infamy in Sydney's criminal underworld with a series of brazen attacks on more established outlaw motorcycle outfits. Advertisement: Story continues below They were suspected of firebombing the Hells Angels clubhouse in Petersham in 2009 and wrestled with the likes of the Comanchero and the Rebels for lucrative drug turf, particularly in Kings Cross. ''When they initially started off they were trying to make a name for themselves," the Gangs Squad commander, Arthur Katsogiannis, said. ''They weren't your typical bikies … They weren't required to own or ride motorcycles. Really, their sole reason for joining was to link themselves to facilitate their criminal activities.'' But as motorcycle gangs play out the latest turf war in western Sydney - most notably last week the Hells Angels and Nomads - the name Notorious has not been uttered. That is because police say they have successfully dismantled the group. ''The group no longer exists in an organised structure,'' Mr Katsogiannis said. Notorious was formed in early 2007 when the president of the Parramatta chapter of the Nomads decided to quit that gang to start his own club. It took members from youth gangs like the Fairfield Boyz and the Assyrian Kings. They were dubbed ''Nike Bikies'' because the members wore white sneakers, fashionable T-shirts and expensive jeans instead of the traditional get up of boots, dirty vests and bushy beards. At its peak, Mr Katsogiannis said the group had only about 25 members. ''That isn't very much but when they initially started off they were trying to make a name for themselves in the media and amongst brazen acts,'' he said. ''They certainly got some notoriety but it also brought them to our attention." It made Notorious an obvious target for Strike Force Raptor, the proactive, high-visibility police unit set up to target bikie gangs following the fatal brawl at Sydney Airport in March 2009. In June the same year it targeted the then secretary of the gang, searching his home and finding guns, club colours and stolen goods. Two months later the president, Alan Sarkis, and three other high-ranking members were charged and jailed over a fight at the Dragonfly nightclub in Kings Cross. With high-ranking officials behind bars, Raptor began targeting the junior members. Over three years they arrested Notorious members on 95 occasions. In its first three years, Raptor arrested 1696 people across all gangs, laid 3857 charges and seized $2.2 million in cash but it is the dismantling of Notorious that could be its greatest achievement thus far. In June last year, Notorious made an unsuccessful attempt to rebuild but it fell apart as members patched over to the Nomads, one of the two groups involved in last week's tit-for-tat violence. ''Others are in jail or they are not involved in any criminal or gang activity," Mr Katsogiannis said. A source close to former gang members has told the Herald many of the club's members just ''moved on'' to other things, some getting out of the gang culture altogether. Another source said ''it was a bit hard to run a club'' when one of its most senior members, who cannot be identified, was in prison on unrelated offences.

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