Bikies go bling to lure re­cruits

Old im­age re­placed by Hol­ly­wood look

Weekend Gold Coast Bulletin - - NEWS - ALEXAN­DRIA UTTING alexan­dria.utting@news.com.au

CASHED-UP Gold Coast bikies are aban­don­ing vi­o­lent re­cruit­ing meth­ods and mar­ket­ing the “Hol­ly­wood look” on social me­dia to lure mem­bers.

Bikie in­sid­ers say new-age gang mem­bers are us­ing Face­book and In­sta­gram to hook the vul­ner­a­ble.

And some mar­ket­ing ex­perts say it may not nec­es­sar­ily be dan­ger­ous.

Glit­ter Strip out­law gang mem­bers fla­grantly flaunt their colours, dress in ex­pen­sive watches and shoes, and pose with girls on­line.

“They are al­ways af­ter new blood and they use social me­dia to show off the Hol­ly­wood look,” one source said.

“These guys put up pic­tures of them­selves on Face­book show­ing their af­fil­i­a­tion to a club. These images are kind of like mar­ket­ing. They say: ‘This is what you could be’. They get hun­dreds of likes from young peo­ple who are friends with them or have older broth­ers in the gang. They see this and they want to be part of the cul­ture and that’s how they get new re­cruits.”

Po­lice sources say there has been a change from the old-school mo­ti­va­tion to join a gang.

“They used to join for the broth­er­hood and you had the bike. Now kids do it be­cause they think it’s cool be­cause they saw it on social me­dia,” a source said.

THE REACH

Bond Uni­ver­sity Crim­i­nol­o­gist Terry Goldswor­thy said the “reach and power” of social me­dia was a log­i­cal way for or­gan­ised crime gangs to spread their mes­sage and re­cruit.

“Like any busi­ness, you have to mar­ket it and social me­dia is a very good way to at­tract peo­ple to your prod­uct,” he said.

“Bikies use social me­dia to show off and they por­tray the life­style of fast cars and fast women. The days of the bushy, bearded un­kempt biker are over. Now it’s about the im­age, the way they present. They still have tat­toos but they make an ef­fort to keep them­selves look­ing good and that is why some of them start get­ting charged with steroid of­fences. It’s all about the im­age.”

IS IT IL­LE­GAL?

Mar­ket­ing the bikie life­style on social me­dia may not nec­es­sar­ily be dan­ger­ous, said Bond Uni­ver­sity mar­ket­ing ex­pert ad­junct pro­fes­sor Stephen Holden.

“Lots of peo­ple use social me­dia to do mar­ket­ing so why the hell wouldn’t bikies?

“(Social me­dia sites are) used by good peo­ple and bad peo­ple. They’re even used in the mar­ket­ing of co­caine and drugs. Post­ing pic­tures of them­selves ... ad­ver­tis­ing ... com­mu­ni­cat­ing their world and their prod­ucts means if some­one is look­ing from that then yes, it is a ter­rific out­let. If I want to be a bikie, I can look it up on the in­ter­net and see what they are do­ing on the Gold Coast.

“Peo­ple might say it is dan­ger­ous or it’s ex­pos­ing kids to ideas that we don’t want to ex­pose them to, but pornog­ra­phy is still one of the top sell­ers on the in­ter­net and its pres­ence on­line didn’t cre­ate it.

“Peo­ple will al­ways go look­ing for what they want. If peo­ple want to fol­low a bikie gang they will do it. If it’s il­le­gal, that’s an­other story.” So, is it il­le­gal? Act­ing De­tec­tive In­spec­tor at the Gold Coast Ma­jor and Or­gan­ised Crime Squad Ste- phen Tier­nan said it could be if peo­ple of in­ter­est are caught “con­sort­ing” on­line.

“We have been aware of it (bikies us­ing social me­dia) for a while. It goes right the way back to when the Finks were us­ing MyS­pace and they’ve had a pres­ence (on­line) ever since,” he said.

“... Ob­vi­ously the social me­dia (out­lets) op­er­ate out of the US and we have pro­ce­dures in place for gain­ing ac­cess to rel­e­vant ma­te­rial.

“If we be­came aware of posts where they were con­sort­ing and they were to­gether and wear­ing para­pher­na­lia that is now il­le­gal in Queens­land, and we could iden­tify through land­marks ... that’s some­thing we look at very se­ri­ously.”

Con­sort­ing laws were in­tro­duced by the Palaszczuk Gov­ern­ment this year to re­place hard-line VLAD an­ti­as­so­ci­a­tion laws.

The anti-con­sort­ing leg­is­la­tion pro­hibits “recog­nised of­fend­ers” from as­so­ci­at­ing with cer­tain peo­ple.

“If some­one is deemed to be a per­son of in­ter­est, they can­not be in a pub­lic place with cer­tain peo­ple,” crim­i­nal lawyer and former de­tec­tive Adam Mag­ill said.

“A per­son of in­ter­est is usu­ally not some­one with no (crim­i­nal) his­tory but they can’t be (charged with) con­sort­ing if they haven’t been served by po­lice with a piece of pa­per with the pho­tos of peo­ple they can’t as­so­ciate with.”

GANGING UP

New-age re­cruit­ing meth­ods come as po­lice and le­gal sources say the Ban­di­dos out­law motorcycle gang have eased their re­cruit­ing pol­icy to in­crease mem­bers on the Coast.

“The Ban­di­dos are the eas­i­est club to get into. That’s be­cause they’re lack­ing num­bers,” one source said.

“They lost a num­ber of their mem­bers dur­ing the

(Broad­beach) bikie brawl (in 2013) and oth­ers left the Coast. They have their largest group­ing on the Gold Coast. Be­cause they are look­ing for mem­bers and it’s so fast-paced you don’t re­ally have to do much to get patched up.”

An­other source said the Ban­di­dos will take “any­one”.

“They re­cruit a lot of the kids. Most are low-lifes who are al­ready in­volved in il­le­gal (ex­ple­tive).”

In days gone by all out­law motorcycle gangs would go through strict and lengthy ini­ti­a­tions be­fore prospec­tive club mem­bers could join.

Han­nay Lawyers boss Chris Han­nay said new re­cruits would be­gin by clean­ing the club­house or run­ning drugs.

“Then the tasks would get harder and harder, they would have to flog peo­ple, col­lect money or engage in vi­o­lent­type of­fend­ing un­til they could prove they were good enough,” he said.

Many new re­cruits pre­vi­ously came from feeder gangs or fam­ily as­so­ci­a­tions.

Bikie sources say the process pre­vi­ously took up to two years with wannabe bikies start­ing as “hang arounds” be­fore mov­ing into a pro­ba­tion pe­riod for about 18 months.

“Then some­one would have to vouch for you to be­come a nom­i­nee. It re­ally took about two years to be­come a full patched mem­ber,” the source said.

ROCK BOT­TOM

Many say the Glit­ter Strip bikie scene has hit rock bot­tom af­ter the VLAD law drove gangs in­ter­state.

The Rebels and the Mon­gols are be­lieved to still have a large pres­ence on the Coast, with sev­eral feeder clubs pro­vid­ing mem­bers from the south­ern Gold Coast and Lo­gan ar­eas.

Sources say the bikie gangs with the most mem­bers be- hind bars tra­di­tion­ally have the strong­est hold on the out­side.

The fact al­leged Glit­ter Strip Mon­gols bikies Ben Mor­timer and Wade YatesTaui are cur­rently on re­mand in sep­a­rate Bris­bane jails await­ing sen­tence af­ter plead­ing guilty to the man­slaugh­ter of Gold Coast man Max Waller sup­ports these claims.

“They have good solid mem­bers and they just don’t give a (ex­ple­tive). They have a range of homes they op­er­ate out of. They don’t have a cen­tral club­house,” one source said about the Gold Coast Mon­gols.

“The Co­mancheros don’t play games in Syd­ney and they’ve also re­cently come up here. When they get down they don’t (ex­ple­tive) around. They are into se­ri­ous vi­o­lence and by that I mean death.

“In the US, the Hells An­gels are con­sid­ered a re­ally heavy gang but here, they are plas­tic gang­sters. They re­cruit from street crews like Red Devils but the Coast is well renowned for be­ing one of the weak­est chap­ters for the club and the most em­bar­rass­ing.”

Over the bor­der, the Ban­di­dos and Lone Wolves gangs brawled out­side Seag­ulls Club at Tweed Heads on the night of the second State of Ori­gin match in July.

Sev­eral men were charged with af­fray and soon af­ter, NSW gang squads in­clud­ing Strike Force Rap­tor and Pub­lic Or­der Riot Squad raided the homes of sev­eral bikies in the Tweed area.

One month ear­lier, al­leged bikie as­so­ciate Ace Hall was dumped out­side the Tweed Heads hos­pi­tal with a gun­shot wound to the stom­ach.

He later died and was be­lieved to have been a bikie club as­so­ciate and lo­cal debt en­forcer.

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