Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Outlaw bikie gangs feel the heat in Australia

Alex Vella
Oz Immigration Minister Peter Dutton has a name for what the authorities are doing to smash the power of outlaw bikie groups. He calls it “cutting the head off the snake.’’

The Federal Government has set out to systematically destroy outlaw motorcycle clubs in Australia. The Rebels, a group founded by the Maltese-born Alex Vella more than 40 years ago is Australia’s largest bikie gang, with more than 1100 members and 900 associates. It is responsible for a string of murders, extortion and shootings, and runs major drug and weapon-smuggling rings.

The plan to take on the Rebels involved taking out its leadership.
New laws were used to ban Vella, the so-called 'Maltese Falcon' from Australia, with his residency rights stripped while he was holidaying in Malta in 2014. By stripping Vella of his visa while he was overseas the bikie boss had few avenues of appeal. The Australian Crime Commission has been working behind the scenes to have Vella barred from ever re-entering Australia.

His visa was cancelled on grounds that he was not of sound character. Authorities say that the Rebels have since been beset by leadership and internal power struggles which have weakened their criminal empire and caused members to 'patch-put', or join rival clubs.

Rebels motorcycle gang members ride in a procession of more than three hundred led by Alex Vella.
The man earmarked to take over from Vella, Rebels Serjeant-at-Arms Simon Rasic, died from natural causes shortly after Vella was exiled.

The club has apparently not yet settled on a new leader and this creates a vacuum and friction that disrupts operations.

Alex Vella Junior on his custom Harley Davidson.
The National Gangs List was created — a detailed intelligence file on every bikie member in Australia, and their associates, including lawyers and accountants. There are 4500 bikies on the list, along with 2500 of their associates, and 900 prospects.

Authorities are targeting vulnerabilities. Are bikies paying taxes, are they abusing social services like welfare. Immigration has proven to be a particularly valuable weapon. 25 members of the Rebels have been booted out of Australia so far, along with 20 members of the Comancheros, and 11 Bandidos. Other groups including the Mongols, Hells Angels, Nomads, Odins Warriors, Black Uhlans, Finks, Gypsy Jokers, Rock Machine, Lone Wolf and Notorious have had members exiled. Over the period of two years, 93 bikies have lost their residency status.
There are 38 active clubs with 400 chapters. The Rebels are the biggest, followed by the Bandidos with 400 members and more than 400 associates, then the Comancheros, with 300 members and more than 400 associates, the Hells Angels, with 280 members and about 400 associates, and the Mongols, who have 150 members and about 200 associates.

Among the bikies under close scrutiny are 440 non-citizens. Of these, 284 are from New Zealand and another 84 are from the UK.

As for Vella, who had lived in Australia for more than four decades, his fate is sealed and he will never return.