Worrying spike in guns seized from violent bikie gangs

There has been a major jump in cash and guns seized by specialist anti-gang police squads, following raids on bikie gangs across Australia over the past year.

Almost twice as many guns, including easily concealed handguns and military-grade automatic rifles, were taken from bikie gangs in 2020-2021 compared to the previous financial year.

In total, Australian Federal Police-led National Anti-Gangs Squad (NAGS) investigators seized 99 firearms.

READ MORE: New DNA tech to help police catch mystery criminals

Ninety-nine firearms were taken out of the hands of alleged gang members and associates by NAGS investigators – almost double the 51 weapons seized in 2019-2020.

READ MORE: Almost $30,000 worth of sheep stolen from Victorian farmer

Police also confiscated more than $3.6 million of suspected proceeds of crime, up from $1.56 million in 2019-2020, while the number of charges laid against alleged gang members and associates jumped by 35 per cent to 231 charges.

The AFP's Operation Ironside, which involved the use of a secret encrypted app called AN0M to catch criminals, was a major boost for police intelligence on Australia's bikie gangs.

Of the 311 people arrested during Operation Ironside, more than 100 are members or known associates of bikie gangs.

Operation Ironside gave new insight into the international reach of Australian-based gangs and their collaboration with known offenders residing offshore, AFP NAGS Detective Superintendent Jason McArthur said.

"The AFP and our state and territory police partners, intercepted and disrupted plots to shoot, bash or kidnap both rivals and innocent people."

READ MORE: Man accused of kidnapping Cleo Smith to face court today

The deadly haul included easily concealable loaded handguns and military-grade automatic firearms capable of firing several rounds a second. A handgun seized by AFP officers.WA Police found 16 weapons buried at a property in Perth's southern suburbs.

The number of firearms seized – almost two a week on average – highlighted the access bikie gangs have to weapons, he said.

He also pointed to a recent study by the Australian Institute of Criminology which showed bikie gangs were increasingly recruiting violent, criminally-inclined men to their ranks.

"The men involved in these gangs are not loyal to each other, they will hurt each other or rip each other off to make money," he said.

READ MORE: Body washes up on South Australian beach

Queensland Police figures showed more than one-third of bikie members in Queensland have been issued domestic violence orders.

QPS statistics also revealed that women in relationships with bikie members are six times more likely to become a victim of domestic and family violence.

The AFP predicted bikie gangs will now try to take advantage of easing COVID border restrictions to ramp up illicit imports.

Leave a Comment