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Australia declares war on biker gangs, tears up visas

By AFP 11 March 2016

Australia declared war on outlaw motorcycle gangs on Friday, with the visas of more than 80 foreign nationals torn up in a crackdown on drug-dealing, extortion and gun-smuggling, which officials said was causing misery.

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton revealed 81 biker gang members have had their visas cancelled or refused since mid-2014 with 27 of them already kicked out of the country. The rest are in prison or immigration detention.

The government said they were from countries including New Zealand, Britain, Bosnia, Albania, Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam.

“Our government is very happy to declare war on outlaw motorcycle gang members,” said Dutton.

He added that they were “causing misery and pain to thousands of Australians” and “this government is determined to work to make sure that we can cancel visas of people who are non-citizens who are committing crimes in our country”.

“I have no doubt these visa refusals or cancellations are disrupting the operations of these criminal organisations by removing key individuals from the hierarchies of the gangs along with their associates,” Dutton said.

Motorcycle gangs linked to organised crime are an increasing problem across Australia.

The government said there were 38 active biker gangs with 4,500 members and thousands more associates, including lawyers and accountants, with the most prominent including the Comancheros, the Rebels, Hells Angels and the Mongols.

They are accused of drug dealing, extortion, money laundering, and the distribution of firearms and explosives with turf wars often leading to brazen violence.

Justice Minister Michael Keenan called them the “public face of organised crime in Australia”.

“We know they are heavily involved in the drug trade, they continue to exert significant influence over Australia’s other black markets,” he said.

“They are involved in money laundering, they are involved in extortion, they’re involved in gun smuggling and they are responsible for a high level of violence in the community.”

The crackdown involves numerous government departments, including border force, immigration, and the tax office, working with police and the Australian Crime Commission’s gangs intelligence unit.

mp/grk/jah

© 1994-2016 Agence France-Presse

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