Notorious global gang sets up in Invercargill

LOUISE BERWICK
Last updated 05:00 27/01/2014

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A notorious international gang has set up a chapter in Invercargill after "a patching over" at the weekend.

Police communications Inspector Murray Hurst confirmed the Bandidos gang travelled to Invercargill and held a "patching over ceremony".

According to the Bandidos Motorcycle Worldwide Club website, the gang has now set up a "probationary chapter" in Invercargill and another in Dunedin.

Other chapters throughout the world, including Australia and Poland, were welcoming the groups to their brotherhood on the website.

But Southland police area manager prevention Inspector Olaf Jensen would not be drawn on the gangs' activities in Invercargill and would not say which gang they could have patched over.

Bandidos members were pulled over in Gore on their way to Invercargill on Friday night, but police had not responded to any call outs involving them during the weekend in Invercargill, he said.

Intelligence had been collected before their arrival and police were aware of their impending gathering before the weekend.

Intelligence was also gathered during the weekend and would continue to to be gathered.

"It's a concern for the police and the community that we have got the presence of another gang."

The gang gathered in East Rd, north of Invercargill.

Senior Sergeant Bruce Terry said gang members went through a series of check points including Dee St, and in Matarua, and were also spoken to in Otautau.

Several infringement notices were issued, along with a license suspension and one person was forbidden to drive.

Mr Terry would not divulge what gang could have been patched over.

It is understood the new Dunedin chapter was initiated into the gang in Invercargill.

Sociologist Jarrod Gilbert, author of Patched: The History of Gangs in New Zealand, said a patching over ceremony was when gang members rid themselves of previous patches, often burning them, before taking on the new patch.

"It's like a initiation."

If a patch over had taken place it would be huge for Invercargill, Mr Gilbert said.

The ritual was "relatively rare" in New Zealand, however, it had taken place in Invercargill before.

In 1989 the Devil's Henchman patched over The Damned of Invercargill, he said.

The rise of the Bandidos reflected a resurgence of motorcycle gangs in New Zealand, he said. "They have come back into vogue.

"They want to expand around the country because it gets them footholes and increases the brotherhood."

However, in New Zealand street gangs "will always have bigger numbers".

Small numbers, several arrests or people dying "risked the survival of the gang" so creating new chapters ensured its viability in the country.

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"The resurgence we have seen in these types of groups does mean war between criminal groups is inevitable."

People were attracted to the gang because of the brotherhood and family, and it generally attracted lower socio-economic members, he said.

However, the men were often older and therefore more mature, Mr Gilbert said.

"Individually they are involved in criminal activity but they don't tend to orientate towards organised criminal activity.

"It does occur time to time but it's the exception, not the rule," he said.

louise.berwick@stl.co.nz

- Fairfax Media

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