CHIANGRAI TIMES – Australian biker gangs are expanding aggressively overseas, opening clubhouses and absorbing smaller clubs in other countries in a reversal of a decades-long trend.
At least one outlaw motorcycle gang has established an affiliate in Thailand, with others looking to expand into that and other south-east Asian countries such as Indonesia, according to Victoria Police Acting Assistant Commissioner Doug Fryer.
”There is certainly one of our mainstream larger clubs that has an established clubhouse in Thailand,” he told The Age, while declining to name the club.
”They won’t hold membership themselves there, but through sponsorship they have locals set it up. It would be, I’d suggest, dangerous for them to be over there running a club, considering the trade that they peddle in. They’ll get the death penalty. They would say they go over to have holidays and socialize and buy Bali Bagus T-shirts.”
While Mr Fryer also declined to name the clubs that are planning to expand, it is believed Australia’s biggest club, the Rebels, is eying off Thailand for an Asian bridgehead.
While Australia has traditionally been seen as a target for expansion, local bikers are spreading their tentacles internationally to obtain amphetamines and the precursor chemicals needed to make them, which are easier to obtain in south-east Asia.
Mr Fryer said the sergeant-at-arms, or enforcer, of one Victorian-based club was even referring to himself as the club’s ”south-east Asian sergeant-at-arms”.
He said bikers from a Melbourne-based club had also traveled to Spain to ”patch over”, or absorb, a smaller club, transforming the Spanish club into a ”one-percenter”, a title that refers to the belief that they are part of the 1 per cent that is outside mainstream society.
It is also believed that Australian bikers have traveled to the United Arab Emirates to launder money.
The expansion was one of the topics addressed at a Victorian conference this week at which state and federal law-enforcement agencies discussed organized crime trends.
Over the past 18 months, bodies such as state police, the Australian Federal Police, the Australian Crime Commission and Customs have forcefully advocated the need for greater co-operation in law enforcement to keep pace with the evolution of organized crime groups such as bikers.
Mr Fryer said there were now 24 outlaw motorcycle gangs in Victoria, comprising 56 chapters and more than 1000 members.
There also was concern over the growth in bikers owning gyms, which he said were being used to traffic drugs.
”The traditional good old boy riding his bike with a big beard and tattoos has now changed to your body-conscious, steroid-munching gym junkies, and a lifestyle that really requires significant wealth,” he said.