AFP targets outlaw motorcycle gangs in South-East Asia


The AFP is working with authorities in South-East Asia to target outlaw motorcycle gangs that have relocated to the region to escape Australian law enforcement.

A number of outlaw motorcycle gangs (OMCGs), including the Comanchero, Hells Angels, Bandidos and Lone Wolf, have moved offshore or have set up chapters in South-East Asia.

In particular, groups from Western Australia are setting up in South-East Asia, with members residing there temporarily or permanently.

The AFP alleges the OMCGs are responsible for trafficking tonnes of drugs into Australia every year.

Offshore OMCGs are sourcing methamphetamine, heroin and cocaine for OMCGs and other organised crime groups in Australia.

The lucrative market for illicit drugs in Australia is a driver of violence between outlaw motorcycle gangs in Australian suburbs.

Law enforcement agencies across Asia, Europe and Australia met last month to share intelligence and identify opportunities to jointly target OMCGs.

Assistant Commissioner Crime Command Nigel Ryan said established Australian OMCGs had expanded their influence in South-East Asia over the past 10 years to ensure better control over their illicit supply chains, trafficking corridors and money laundering networks.

“Police operations during the past 10 years have targeted more than 30 Australian OMCG members offshore by referring intelligence and information to local law enforcement,’’ Assistant Commissioner Ryan said.

“With our partners in South-East Asia and via joint efforts, including through joint teams in Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia, we have supported investigations into these groups and their criminal activities.

“We are making the lives of OMCG members very uncomfortable offshore. We are working with Australian and foreign partners, in some cases, to force their return to Australia to face the justice system.

“The AFP will not stand for Australian criminals moving offshore and causing havoc in another country and that’s why the partnership between the AFP and overseas law enforcement agencies is so important.

“About 70 percent of the transnational serious organised crime threats impacting Australia come from overseas, and a sizeable chunk of those are OMCG members, or criminals, who regularly work with OMCG facilitators or distributors.

“The AFP’s focus is on looking for opportunities to attack OMCG supply chains and disrupt their business models. We also disrupt their finances to reduce their ability to profit from their crimes.”

It comes as the AFP and members from other Australian law enforcement agencies attended a two-day international Countering OMCG Conference in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, on 21-22 June 2022. It was the fifth since 2014 and also included representatives from law enforcement partners across Asia and Europe.

Law enforcement representatives discussed OMCG methodologies, including how they entrench themselves in local communities and involve themselves in business activities to legitimise their operations.

“These are not groups that care about the wellbeing of the communities they establish themselves in, or their members,’’ Assistant Commissioner Ryan said.

“These groups are responsible for the importation and trafficking of tonnes of illicit drugs, hundreds of weapons, the laundering of millions of dollars in cash and if they feel it is necessary, murder,” Assistant Commissioner Ryan said.

“Physical borders are no longer an impediment to these groups so that’s why it’s vital that we collaborate with our international partners to ensure we can counter the impact of illicit drugs, firearms and dirty money.”

Major General Ho Sy Niem, Deputy Director of the Vietnam Ministry of Public Security Criminal Investigation Department, said the OMCG conference helped his organisation raise awareness and develop a better understanding of the OMCG threat in the region.

“Vietnam has an increased appreciation of the spectrum of criminal activity OMCGs are involved in, including drug trafficking, human trafficking, money laundering and violent crime. Vietnam commits and recommends law enforcement counterparts commit to enhanced intelligence exchange and strengthened cooperation to prevent and combat the OMCG threat in the region,” he said.

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