Police raids over violent Hunter bikie war
Posted on 12/17/18 5:03 PM
Ten alleged bikies have been arrested in sweeping dawn raids across the NSW Hunter region.Hundreds of police have swept across the NSW Hunter Valley as the region famous for mines and wines becomes a bikie battleground over drug territory, betrayals and revenge attacks.
Thirteen alleged outlaw motorcycle gang (OMCG) members were arrested and charged in dawn raids as police strike forces cracked down on the escalating conflict between rival gangs – the Finks and the Nomads.
Thirty-one properties, from Muswellbrook to Newcastle, were targeted in Thursday’s large-scale sting involving more than 280 police officers.
Weapons, explosive detonators, guns, drugs and reptiles were seized, while 11 of those arrested were charged with participating in a criminal group and two were charged with drug offences.
Strikeforce Raptor, the squad of officers most reviled by the OMCG underworld, will remain in the region to support local police until the conflict ends.
The raids follow an investigation into the ongoing “civil war” between the two gangs, believed to have begun in late 2016, when a former Nomads bikie switched allegiance by “patching over” to the Finks.
There have since been a string of incidents, from assaults to drive-by shootings and firebombings, each more serious than the last.
Police say tension between the gangs is so intense it’s only a matter of time before an innocent bystander gets hurt.
Detective Superintendent Wayne Humphrey appealed to the outlaw bikies and their family members to stop the conflict.
“Eventually, either you or someone in your family could be shot … or even someone who’s totally unrelated to the gangs,” he said, addressing reporters in Newcastle on Thursday.
“That will be on your conscience.”
Shooting incidents this year have involved high-powered rounds that presented “massive risk” to the community, Det Sup Humphrey said.
“It’s just got to stop.”
Detective Superintendent Deb Wallace slammed the gangs for acting “irrationally and irresponsibly”.
Since January there have been at least seven shooting incidents, including one at a home near Maitland last month that left a 44-year-old man with a bullet wound to the leg.
Raptor has dismantled two separate Nomads clubhouses in the Hunter region this year.
Meanwhile police are currently seeking serious crime prevention orders for 12 months against five Nomads to help quash tensions.
The restrictions include bans on entering any licensed premises in NSW, travelling in vehicles at night, associating with any member of any gang, and using encrypted messaging services.
In an affidavit tendered to the NSW Supreme Court last week, Sergeant Gary Broadhurst said the Hunter conflict was the most significant bikie war occurring in NSW.
“The number and frequency of attacks has increased and the level of violence is now at the most dangerous levels I have witnessed in this conflict,” he wrote.
High-powered rifles are now being used, compared to lower-grade weapons such as shotguns a few months ago, he added.
One self-proclaimed bikie, late last month, lamented the “system is a deadset joke” as police promised to clamp down.
“We have stronger laws against us and get treated worse then (sic) terrorists and paedophiles,” he posted on Facebook alongside the number 14, a Nomad symbol.
The 13 men charged were granted strict conditional bail with nine scheduled to appear at Newcastle Local Court on May 3 and the remaining four due to appear at the same court on April 26.