True Colours: The Violence of the 1%

02.03.2019

tags: Organised Crime Groups,

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By Bruce Groenewegen and Anthony Macken

From the March 2019 issue of the APJ.

Since they became established in Australia in the 1960s, Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs (OMCGs) have represented a criminal threat. The nature of the criminal activities of OMCGs in Australia has evolved in the 50-or-so years since the gangs were first established and now include transnational and sophisticated criminal enterprises spanning commercial drug importation and manufacture and firearms trafficking, through to complex frauds and money laundering. The one constant criminal enterprise, however, is serious violence and the threat of serious violence, which underpins all the other criminal activity.

From the earliest days of OMCGs being established in Australia, assaults, threats, intimidation, shootings, bombings, arson and murder have been these gangs’ calling cards. Crimes committed by OMCG members were generally investigated reactively, although some proactive targeting occurred. Intelligence was collected on OMCGs and, although the process was somewhat ad hoc, several summary documents were produced in New South Wales (NSW). However, membership of an OMCG seems to have been largely considered to be an adjunct to criminal behaviour by members, rather than a causal factor.

In 2002, perceptions in the NSW Police Force about OMCGs and their criminal threat had changed, and a new squad was established with one of its charters being proactive targeting of OMCG members committing crime. The new Gangs Squad, while very successful, followed traditional investigative practices.

In the mid-2000s the pressure between OMCGs began to build to unprecedented levels. This was primarily because of the numbers of gangs and their chapters being crammed alongside one another in the limited geographic space of the Sydney basin. By 2007, conflicts between rival OMCGs became so prolific that an operation, Strike Force Ranmore (Ranmore), was started to proactively target these gangs committing extremely violent acts in public places. Ranmore was to be the forerunner of Strike Force Raptor. In the following 12 months, Ranmore collected information and led or participated in investigations resulting in 1,750 charges for offences committed in the OMCG environment – a third of these were for violence or firearms and weapons offences.

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