POLICE have struck at the heart of the notorious Hells Angels bikie gang, raiding the group’s headquarters and arresting a senior member.
The raid, which entangled a former club enforcer named Ball Bearing, came as the State Government pursues its plans to introduce new bikie-busting laws within months.
The 68-year-old, a former sergeant-at-arms, was arrested at the Alphington stronghold where he also lives.
Police raided the club as part of Operation Barbados, allegedly seizing a pistol and drugs.
The gun will be given ballistics tests to establish if it is linked to any crimes.
A house next door, also owned by the Hells Angels, was raided.
Mr Bearing, who changed his name many years ago, was last night charged with possession of amphetamines and cannabis.
He will appear in Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on September 19.
Police raided the group several times last week. They arrested a Hells Angel member and charged him with serious drug offences.
Echo Taskforce detective Acting Insp Dave De Francesco said yesterday’s raid was the result of those last week at Cranbourne, Mordialloc, Cranbourne East, Narre Warren, and Hampton Park.
Police had shut down a clandestine drug lab and recovered guns, drugs and a pipe bomb.
The Alphington raid went without incident, Insp De Francesco said.
“There were no issues in regards to entry to the premises,” he said.
“There was a male member present but in terms of entry there were no issues.”
Insp De Francesco said the investigation had been broad and long-lasting.
“At this stage this is probably the end of the investigation,” he said.
Under State Government plans, bikie gangs would be outlawed and their fortifications dismantled.
This would require a Supreme Court decision if it is satisfied the members use the organisation to engage in criminal behaviour.
Despite successful legal challenges to the laws in other jurisdictions, the Government is confident they can be introduced here.
THE police raid on the Melbourne headquarters of the Hells Angels motorcycle club comes as the State Government makes good on its boast to outlaw bikie gangs.
As reported in today’s Herald Sun, legislation has been finalised and will soon be put to Parliament. This has been complex and painstaking. Laws to ban the gangs have been challenged in South Australia under legislation upholding freedom of association.
The gangs have increased their activities, particularly in Victoria, where members have moved into debt collecting after licensing requirements for debt collectors were dropped by the Labor government.
The bikies’ comic-book appearance belies their vicious behaviour.
Yesterday, police seized drugs and a handgun from the Hells Angels clubhouse where Ball Bearing, the bikie pictured here, was arrested.
Under new laws to crack down on the gangs, the Supreme Court will be able to declare a gang a criminal organisation.
This will depend on the court being satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that the gang’s members are using it in support of criminal activity, such as drug trafficking, extortion, intimidation or violence.
The Herald Sun has campaigned strongly for laws to control the activities of these gangs. Police need additional powers in dealing with gang-related crime.
A Victoria Police investigation has found some 80 per cent of members have what are described as “significant prior convictions” for offences such as importing drugs of dependence, including heroin, serious assaults, affray and firearm offences, including the use of fully automatic weapons.
Police taskforce Echo was set up last year to disrupt bikie activity and has seized firearms and drugs from some of the 25 motorcycle gangs in Victoria. In spite of laws to restrict the sale of non-sporting firearms, such as assault rifles, police are concerned bikie gangs find it easy to obtain weapons. Bikie gangs are associated with some of Victoria’s most violent crime and frequent Melbourne’s King St bar and nightclub area, where members of the public have been seriously injured.
This newspaper will continue to support moves by the State Government to disband these gangs and demolish their fortress clubhouses.