3 bikie gangs in town for challenge

NEIL RATLEY
Last updated 05:00 24/12/2013
bikie, motorcycle, motorbike
Fairfax NZ
THUNDER DOME: A Rebel Motorcycle Club member in Christchurch. Members of the New Zealand Chapter of Australia’s largest outlaw motorcycle gang were spotted in Invercargill during the Burt Munro Challenge.

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Three notorious motorcycle gangs rode into Invercargill during the Burt Munro Challenge weekend, but the region's top cops say there is no reason to believe they are looking to establish a presence in the south.

Southern District Police organised crime squad head, Detective Senior Sergeant Malcolm Inglis, said the Tribesmen Motorcycle Club, Head Hunters and the Rebels, from Australia, were all in Invercargill during the motorcycle rally. The gangs were closely monitored and they rode out of town without incident.

Any motorcycle event or rally drew bikers, including gangs, and all three gangs had previously been through Invercargill, Mr Inglis said.

The Rebel Motorcycle Club was Australia's largest outlaw motorcycle gang and was involved in serious violence, drug making and trafficking in Australia, he said.

They were trying to establish themselves in Christchurch and other areas of the South Island after coming across from Australia in 2011.

"Several New Zealanders are involved in the Rebels organisation in Australia and provide links to New Zealand," he said.

Southland area commander Inspector Lane Todd, said he would neither confirm or deny if gangs, including the Rebels, were looking to establish themselves in Invercargill or Southland.

At the same time the gangs were in town, southern police smashed a drug operation run by the Invercargill-based Road Knights motorcycle gang.

There have been 21 reported arrests related to the long-running Operation Crimson, involving the Road Knights.

Mr Todd said police were still monitoring motorcycle gang activity in the south and a rival gang moving in to take over the Road Knights' turf was always a possibility.

Burt Munro Challenge committee chairman Wayne Affleck said organisers did not have issues with gang members and he did not see a single patch during the weekend.

Motorcycle gangs were a "non-issue" in Southland, he said.

The Head Hunters are regarded as one of the largest motorcycle gangs in the country and police are concerned by their rapid growth in recent years and their propensity towards extreme violence.

The Tribesmen formed in the 1980s in Otara.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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