Police release images of bikie crackdown
IN a graphic signal to outlaw motorcycle gangs that they're determined to stamp out bikie wars, elite police announced their arrival in southern NSW with a show of force.
In a series of raids and arrests, members of outlaw motorcycle gangs were lined up, face down on the ground, as elite police squad Raptor South announced it was in town.
Raptor members stand guard during arrests earlier this year. Picture: NSW Police
Raptor South has seized tens of thousands of dollars in drugs and illicit cash, and taken almost 20 prohibited weapons off the streets of southern NSW over the past two months.
Two Raptor units - Raptor South, based in the Illawarra region, and Raptor North, based in the Hunter Region - started trial operations in April, and are now permanent forces.
On Monday, they released graphic images of their first three months of work: graphic images of outlaw motorcycle gang members, some clad in gang colours, pulled from their motorbikes, lined up face down and restrained in handcuffs.
Police say it marks the beginning of a police crackdown on growing gang-related violence in regional New South Wales.
The two Raptor commands have been set up in the hope police arrests will bring a halt to turf wars between the Nomads and Finks in the north, and a Brothers for Life gang chapter in New South Wales' Illawarra region.
Since April, elite police squads have been on the ground in southern New South Wales to hone in on feuding bikie gangs.
Raptor South was set up when a group of Illawarra criminals were accused of reviving the violent Brothers 4 Life gang and operating a local chapter from inside prison. It has arrested eight people, laid more than 40 charges and conducted almost 20 operations, Southern Region Commander Assistant Commissioner Peter Barrie said.
The State Crime Command's Criminal Groups Squad officially launched 'Raptor South' on Sunday to have a full-time presence in the Illawarra region and stamp out growing criminal gang activity.
Meanwhile, Raptor North has seen police cracking down on the escalating conflict between rival gang - the Finks and the Nomads, after seven drive-by shootings and firebombings involving the gangs across the Hunter Valley, left locals terrified in the first two months of this year.
In April, 300 armed officers carried out sweeping raids arresting 13 alleged bikies.
But tensions between the gangs remains high.
In April Detective Superintendent Wayne Humphrey appealed to the outlaw bikie gangs 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.
Shooting incidents this year have involved high-powered weapons rounds presenting a "massive risk" to the community, Supt Humphrey said.
"It's just got to stop."
Since 2009, officers from Strike Force Raptor have seized of tens of millions in cash, drugs, and other proceeds of crime.
"We've hit them [outlaw bikie gangs] where it hurts most - profit," State Crime Commander, Acting Assistant Commissioner Stuart Smith