Outlaw motorcycle gangs are involved in violence, drugs, firearms and other crime. They are criminal organisations with business models designed to profit from illegal activities, particularly illicit drugs.
Tasmanian clubs have links to illegal activity, nationally and internationally, through strategic partnerships with other organised crime groups.
Tasmania is not immune to the dangers presented by outlaw motorcycle gangs:
- In May 2013, an overnight siege occurred at a home in Kingston after an altercation between some members of the Rebels who were feuding with the occupants of the address. Shots were fired from near the home and from the street.
- In 2013, several senior leaders of the Launceston chapter of the Rebels, including the state president Colin Picard, were jailed for trafficking in more than $500,000 worth of methamphetamine. In sentencing, Justice Estcourt said ‘By any measure this was a large scale commercial drug trafficking operation of a kind not often seen in Tasmania’.
- In July 2014, a collaborative law enforcement operation disrupted a significant importation syndicate and led to Tasmania’s largest drug seizure in recorded history. Four kilograms of methamphetamine was intercepted in Tasmania and an additional four kilograms was seized in Queensland, with intelligence indicating that all eight kilograms of the drug were destined for Tasmania. Members of the Rebels outlaw motorcycle gang were charged in both states.
- In June 2015, a series of raids in Tasmania on a number of premises linked to the Rebels by a combined taskforce of national and state agencies resulted in 14 arrests, 100 charges, and seizures of more than $200 000 in cash, 120gm of crystal methamphetamine (ice) worth $120 000, 1.7kg of cannabis worth $18 000 and 133 ecstasy tablets worth $6 500.
- In September 2016, a combined Federal and state taskforce seized crystal methamphetamine (ice), cash and stolen goods from a fortified residence in Devonport linked to the Devonport Support Chapter of the Bandidos.
- On 14 March 2017, Rebels gang associate, Ryan Zmendak pleaded guilty to one count of trafficking methamphetamine, and one count of conspiracy to commit the crime of trafficking. Zmendak was involved in the importation of two packages containing the drugs from the UK in 2014, with an estimated street value of $7.4 million.
- In October 2017, the Rebels chose to utilise Tasmania for their national run. This resulted in approximately 300 members attending the state. Despite being advised they would receive strong police attention, Tasmania Police still seized illicit drugs and weapons from members. Rebel members also returned positive drug tests for cocaine and methamphetamine, while driving. During the run Tasmania Police believe that a person received significant life threatening injuries at the Rebel’s Hobart clubhouse. That investigation remains open.
- At the conclusion of the Rebels national run a commercial flight leaving Hobart was significantly delayed after members of the Rebels had to be removed after intimidating the cabin crew.
- In October 2017, a long term Rebels member and the founder of the Kingston Rebels chapter, A J Graham, was deported on character grounds. The most recent was in 2009, when he was gaoled after torturing a 19-year-old insurance investigator.
- In November 2017, the Bandidos elected to come to Tasmania for their national run. A total of 233 patched members came from mainland jurisdictions. The run coincided with a new clubhouse being established in Hobart.
- Prior to the Bandidos’ run, a number of members of the local Mersey Chapter attended a pro-boxing event at the Devonport Basketball Stadium. Also in attendance were members of the Outlaws Devonport Chapter. There was significant tension between the two groups with verbal abuse occurring. Information provided to police indicate that the Outlaws intended to protect their ‘turf’ and were prepared to resort to violence to do so. A strong police presence prevented this from occurring.
- As a result of a search at the clubhouse in David St, East Devonport on 3 April 2018, a 28 year old man was charged with trespass, assault, evade, minor driving offences, drug offences, proceeds of crime and firearms offences as well as Supreme Court bail breaches and offences relative to his arrest. Investigations are continuing into other possible offenders.
Tasmania Police works closely with the Australian Federal Police’s National Anti-Gangs Squad (NAGS) and other agencies to tackle illegal outlaw motorcycle gang activities at the local, national and international level. (A NAGS Liaison Officer is embedded in the Tasmania Police Serious Organised Crime Division).
Our aim is to make Tasmania a hostile environment for outlaw motorcycle gangs by continually interfering in their activities.
Amongst many tactics, we execute search warrants on club houses and premises, object to liquor license applications, monitor members’ travel, monitor business activity and work with other agencies to investigate tax and welfare payments.
Tasmania Police has representatives on the National Serious and Organised Crime Co-ordination Committee and the National OMCG Management Group.