GROWING outlaw bikie clubs own sub-machineguns, traffic in illicit drugs and use counter-surveillance equipment.
Victoria Police have seized more than 50 weapons and drugs and cash during more than 52 raids on properties since February.
Alarmingly, a mini sub-machinegun, a pistol with a silencer, assault rifles, Tasers and ballistic vests are among the items seized.
Police have also revealed there have been several shootings involving patched bikie gang members, including that of Fink enforcer Mick MacPherson several months ago.
But intelligence suggests there is no emerging war about to erupt between clubs.
Detective Superintendent Doug Fryer said the number of guns the Echo Taskforce had unearthed was “disturbing”.
He said police were serious about making a dent in “1 per cent” bikie gangs (so named because they’re among 1 per cent of society said to be outlaws).
“The issue and concern for us is the amount of firearms we’ve seized in the last six months is really disturbing,” Supt Fryer said.
“Every time we’re turning a rock over we seem to be finding either firearms, drugs or other criminality.
“There certainly have been some shootings in the last six months, that have gone relatively unreported, of bikies.
“We would surmise that invariably these firearms that we’ve seized have been predominantly for self-protection.
“Our intelligence suggests that we’ve got around 24 outlaw motorcycle gangs in Victoria, comprising 26 chapters.
“Police make no apologies for our desire to prevent … the unlawful activities of (the gangs).”
Offences committed by the gangs have ranged from social nuisance breaches to international organised crime linking with sophisticated syndicates.
Although not all “patched” members of “1 per cent” bikie gangs were involved in crime, pockets of members comprised a criminal element, Supt Fryer said.
Assets could be seized from club members if they were found to be proceeds of crime.
He said that internal fighting within chapters and feuds with other clubs and crime syndicates presented a risk to public safety.
There were agreements between clubs in Victoria, but the gangs were a threat to other organised crime groups, he said.
The State Government is working towards developing laws to combat outlaw bikie gangs.