Australian outlaw motorcycle groups have been making headline after headline these past few months. Shootings and beatings have been shaking up the sunny cities of the land down under as bikers are fighting amongst each other over territory and new members. And now, it seems, a Mexican drug cartel has joined the party.
The main culprit behind the biker war, authorities say, is the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club. The Australian reports: “In the past year the most dramatic change in the bikie landscape has been the rise and rise of the Hells Angels under the direction of Felix Lyle. The club went on a major recruitment drive about a year after the airport brawl. In recent years the Hells Angels membership has gone from a hard-core 30-odd to about 200.”
This recruitment drive resulted in attacks back-and-forth on club-linked businesses and even homes of bikers. The main rivals of the Hells Angels are the Bandidos MC, Comanchero MC, Nomads, Rebels MC, and Finks MC.
The Hells Angels are not just recruiting new members, they are also recruiting members of existing clubs like the Bandidos. In what is called “patching over”, members of another motorcycle club switch sides and join up with the Hells Angels.
“The bad blood between the Queensland-based Hells Angels and Finks goes back to (…) when Finks gang member Christopher Hudson defected to the Hells Angels. Hudson is serving life in jail for a triple shooting in Melbourne's CBD that left a man dead and two people seriously hurt,” The Herald Sun reports.
Comanchero MC is led by Mark Buddle and has an estimated 130 members. The group has been involved in several shootings that are related to the bad blood caused by Hells Angels convincing bikers to switch sides.
Being one of the smaller outlaw motorcycle groups in Australia there isn’t much Comanchero MC can do. However, this past week it became known they had made an interesting ‘friend’ from Mexico which could potentially spice up an already heated biker war.
On November 8, Australian police arrested a senior figure in the Comanchero Motorcycle Club who had been charged with being part of an alleged drug syndicate operating between Mexico and Australia. The man, 39, was picked up at his Southbank property in Melbourne and was charged with “several drug-related offences including importing a commercial quantity of cocaine and importing methylamphetamine,” The Herald Sun reported.
The arrest followed a seizure of 2.4 kilos of a methylamphetamine-type substance last month and a seizure in September last year of more than 2 kilos of cocaine. On November 8 police seized $30,000 cash, 350 grams of white powder and 2400 pills, believed to be methylamphetamine. According to police, the drugs were being imported in the luggage of couriers flying to Australia from the US.
Though the shipment and seizure are not that impressive, Fox News Latino had an interesting guess as to who might, ultimately, be behind the drug pipeline to Australia.
“While it is unclear which cartel the outlaw motorcycle club members were working with, it is well known that Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán’s (right) Sinaloa cartel has a major stake in Australia’s burgeoning cocaine market. Sinaloa cartel is considered to be the most powerful drug trafficking organization in Mexico - as well as the rest of the world - and supposedly has links to drug networks across the globe,” Fox News Latino reports.
NPR journalist John Burnett wrote all about the possibility of a play for Australia by Guzman back in March of 2012. Quoting chief of intelligence at the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration Rodney Benson, his article states: “The Sinaloa cartel has been able to move in a more global way faster than some of the other cartels. They've recognized a place like Australia, where the price of cocaine can yield them a much greater profit margin compared to selling a kilogram here in the United States.”
Burnett himself, adds: “The markup is impressive. A kilo of cocaine in Brownsville, Texas, sells for $16,000. The same brick goes for up to $250,000 in Sydney. It's no wonder Latin America's cocaine cowboys want in on the action.”
Whether these Mexican “cocaine cowboys” have indeed linked up with the Comanchero MC has yet to be seen. No such evidence has been presented and the amount of money and drugs seized indicates this was not an extremely large or professional operation. Smuggling drugs using couriers can be lucrative but a drug cartel like the one run by Guzman is sophisticated enough to use other, less risky, methods.
As always, Gangsters Inc. will keep an eye on it. For more on outlaw motorcycle groups see our Biker section.
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