Outlaw motorcycle gangs are setting up chapters in south-east Asia in a bid to move hundreds of kilograms of drugs into Australia, with federal police learning criminal groups plan multiple operations once coronavirus restrictions are lifted.
The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age can reveal the Australian Federal Police and Australian Border Force have this year busted an attempt to import 1053 kilograms of the party drug MDMA into NSW.
A patched member of the Mongols Outlaw Motorcycle Gang was also arrested last month after a joint operation between the specialist federal anti-gang strike team and Border Force found he was allegedly involved in importing 25 litres of psychoactive drug GBL.
The Hells Angels have also been detected coordinating drugs from Malaysia to Australia, while the outlaw motorcycle club Satudarah held a regional meeting in Malaysia in September 2019. Satudarah is one of the most violent outlaw motorcycle clubs in the world and is known for its drug distribution in Europe, particularly the Netherlands.
The AFP and state police are preparing for the gangs to take advantage of the easing of state border restrictions later this month to move illicit drugs – including cocaine, methamphetamine and MDMA – throughout the country.
Federal police are also bracing for more attempts to move drugs into Australia once border restrictions ease in south-east Asia.
AFP assistant commissioner Nigel Ryan said outlaw motorcycle gangs have developed offshore bases to expand their clubs and direct and control their transnational criminal activities, including the movement of drugs.
He said international locations were being used by the bikie gangs to “continue activities overtly including business meetings, patching new members and attending international runs”.
“Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs (OMCG) are a threat to south-east Asia and Australia due to their recognised transnational organised crime links, criminal activities and local and international networks,’’ Mr Ryan said.
“It is almost certain that OMCGs will continue to expand their presence and influence in south-east Asia to benefit their criminal enterprises.”
A joint investigation involving the AFP, Border Force and NSW Police Force busted the alleged crime syndicate responsible for importing 1053 kilograms of MDMA into NSW.
Police launched Operation Olney in late January to identify the crime syndicate responsible for importing the MDMA into the country.
The investigation was sparked after ABF officers intercepted the drugs concealed in buckets labelled as tile adhesive in a shipping container from South Korea.
In March, police raided several properties and found the substituted MDMA, as well as cocaine and methamphetamine, and five men were charged with a range of drug-related offences.
It can now be revealed a sixth suspect, a23-year-old man from Cartwright in Sydney, was arrested and charged on Friday, 12 June.
Separately, Border Force officers in Sydney intercepted an air freight delivery from China containing 25 litres of GBL.
After a joint investigation by the Queensland division of the National Anti-Gangs Squad and Border Force, a 26-year-old man from Hamilton in Brisbane was charged on June 12 with one count of importing a commercial quantity of a border controlled drug. He is alleged to be a patched member of the Mongols Outlaw Motorcycle Gang.
Mr Ryan said the AFP was working with international partners in the region to disrupt and displace the bikie gangs.
“In 2019 more than 25 foreign visas held by Australian OMCG members were cancelled by respective foreign governments, displacing them from or preventing their entry to countries in which these individuals may have been seeking to expand their criminal enterprise,” he said.