For Youth Gangs, please see the Youth Gang Wiki. Edit

Gangs in Australia WikiEdit

The history of gangs in Australia goes back to the colonial era. Criminal gangs flourished in the Rocks district of Sydney in its early history in the 19th century. The Rocks Push was a notorious larrikin gang, which dominated The Rocks area of Sydney, Australia from the 1800s to the end of the 1900s.

In its day it was referred to as The Push, a title which has since come to be more widely used for the 1940s left-wing movement the Sydney Push. The gang was engaged in running warfare with other larrikin gangs of the time such as the Straw Hat Push, the Glebe Push, the Argyle Cut Push, the Forty Thieves from Surry Hills and the Gibb Street Mob. Italian crime gangs have been active in Melbourne and Sydney, and even some youth gangs like the Sharpies in the 1960s have been large enough to cause disturbances, though lacking criminal organisation.

Australian Gang StatesEdit

New South Wales




Western Australia

South Australia

Gang types Edit

Southeast Asian and Chinese gangs Edit

In the late 1980s, the Vietnamese gang 5T was active in the Cabramatta area of Sydney and were believed to be involved in the murder of John Newman, the Member for Cabramatta in the NSW State Parliament. Newman had been the target of numerous death threats from Asian gangs but did not seek police protection. During the night of 5 September 1994 while outside his Woods Avenue home, he was shot twice and killed. His fiancée, Lucy Wang, was with him at the time but saw little of what happened because of the swiftness of the murder.[2]

Other gangs active in Cabramatta, Sydney include the Four Aces and Madonna's Mob.[3] Chinese gangs have existed as a low level activity for at least 20 years.[4]

Whilst media focus on Asian gangs in Australia is not as severe as it once was in the 1980s, activities across a diverse criminal portfolio continue to occur. Groups at varied states of organisation are involved in murder, violence, drug importation and distribution, money laundering, human trafficking, and coercion of women into illegal prostitution.

In terms of Chinese gang activity, highly organised crime syndicates in Sydney have looked to Chinese youths on student visas for their recruitment drives.[5] Multimillion-dollar prostitution rackets have been operating in Melbourne for several years, one of the largest by Mulgrave woman Xue Di Yan.[6]

For over two decades there has been concern expressed about the increase of organised criminal activity by Vietnamese in Australia, with media attention focusing specifically on 'crime gangs'. For example, a 1988 media report stated: 'Criminal gangs in the Vietnamese community are increasingly heavily armed, are moving into drugs and gambling, establishing links with Australian crime figures, and becoming involved in standover rackets in their own community'.[7]

Vietnamese criminal groups have been involved in distributing heroin in Australia. It has become apparent that a number of these Vietnamese groups are organising heroin shipments, either independently of or in association with established Chinese heroin trafficking operations. An increasing amount of heroin coming to Australia appears to have been transhipped through Vietnam.[8] A gang called '5T', based in the Sydney suburb of Cabramatta, has become prominent in the distribution of very pure heroin in the district, as well as systematic extortion, home invasion robberies and other offences.[8]

Vietnamese criminal groups appear to be involved in all levels of the heroin trade from street dealing to importing. They are also willing to purchase from Chinese importers and to wholesale to other groups, such as Romanian and Lebanese dealers. The heroin the Vietnamese import themselves is believed to come via Vietnam, which is apparently experiencing both increased production of opium increased transit of heroin.[9]

Western Australia's Deputy Police Commissioner, Mr Les Ayton, said. 'There is good intelligence and anecdotal evidence that the Vietnamese (criminals) are now emerging as major importers of heroin'.[10] A media report in April 1994 cited Queensland police sources as believing that millions of dollars of heroin had been sent from Ho Chi Minh City to Queensland during the earlier part of 1994 [11]

The Australian Bureau of Criminal Intelligence (ABCI) has given the following description of the drug trafficking network in the Sydney suburb of Cabramatta involving the 5T gang.[12]

5T was engaged in “securing a large market with Cabramatta as its centre, by supplying high-quality Southeast Asian heroin (from 65 to 75% pure) for the same price that lower purity heroin was sold for elsewhere (a cap of 0.03gm cost $40–50 on the street). This attracted addicts and dealers from far and wide. By organising its own importations of heroin (typically impregnated in fabric, or carried by couriers returning from Vietnam), it was able to greatly reduce its reliance (and its overheads) on the Chinese criminals who supply the greater proportion of the market. The 5T gang also cut out the middlemen, and sold directly to the street. A marked increase was noted in heroin overdoses, prompting the New South Wales Health Department to issue a public warning.[13]

The NSW Police have given particular attention to the heroin distribution in the Cabramatta area since the increase in the number of heroin offences there began in 1992. From July 1992 to July 1994, 1,360 persons were charged as a result with heroin-related offences, 518 of them with supplying heroin of different quantities.[14]

A further issue is the extent to which the gangs like the 5T are responsible for the violence and extortion that is occurring in the Sydney area. There are many media reports of 'Asian gangs' in Sydney engaging in violent robberies including 'home invasions',[15] Vietnamese syndicates have gained media attention again recently with a recent drug bust in Melbourne.[16] Casino high roller, Thanh Hai Pham, and his wife were ring leaders of this syndicate and a total of 12 people were arrested in connection with this operation.

Middle Eastern gangs Edit

For a long time, Middle-Eastern gangs conducted extortion against nightclubs, ram raids, and car theft. More recently, drive-by shootings have become more common, with tit for tat drive by shooting starting as early as 1998, and becoming more common in recent years,[17][18] including a drive by machine gun attack on a police station in Lakemba, Sydney.[19]

In 2006, a permanent Middle-Eastern Organised Crime squad was set up following revenge attacks, including stabbings and assaults, by Middle Eastern youths following the Cronulla riots.[20]

Outlaw motorcycle gangs Edit

Outlaw motorcycle gangs are present in Australia, with international outlaw clubs like the Bandidos and Hells Angels and Gypsy Jokers as well as local groups. One of the major events in Australian motorcycle gang criminal history was what became known as the Milperra Massacre in 1984, where a fight between two gangs, the Comancheros and the Bandidos in Milperra in the South of Sydney, turned into a gun battle that claimed seven lives - six gang members and an uninvolved bystander. While conflict between various clubs has been ever present, in 2008 the gang conflict escalated, with 13 shootings taking place in Sydney in the space of two weeks.[21]

Gang violence has become high profile to the point where various state governments have taken steps to change laws to focus on the problem, and police have set up groups to deal with the threat, including the Crime Gang Task Force in South Australia[22] Bikie gangs in South Australia at least, are involved in drugs, murder, extortion and other forms of intimidation and violence. Bikie gangs in South Australia have diversified their activities into both legal and illegal commercial business enterprises.[22]

In Western Australia they are involved in the drug trade.[23][unreliable source?] Laws to deal with Bikie gangs (applying to any association, bike or otherwise) have been introduced into Northern Territory, South Australia, and are presently being looked at in NSW and Queensland.[24][25][26]

In early 2009, Comanchero Motorcycle Club and Hells Angels were involved in a clash at Sydney Airport. One Hell's Angels associate member was beaten to death in plain view of witnesses at the airport, and police estimated as many as 15 men were involved in the violence. Police documents detail the brawl as a result of the Comanchero and Hells Angels Presidents being on the same flight from Melbourne.[27] Four suspects were arrested as a result of the altercation. The head of the Comancheros was initially sentenced to 21 years jail for the murder after a nine-month trial, but in May 2014 he was granted a retrial.[28]

Including two murders in the capital city, 4 people were killed in the space of a week in Canberra and in Sydney.[29] As a result of heightening violence, New South Wales Premier Nathan Rees announced the state police anti-gang squad would be boosted to 125 members from 50.[30]

A growing percentage of the crime attributed to outlaw motorcycle gangs since around 2010 is not necessarily committed by actual bikers. Much of the crime has been committed by non-riding members or associates of these gangs, bringing into question whether these individuals should be referred to as belonging to outlaw "motorcycle" gangs or simply outlaw gangs that have splintered from the original group. This component of the culture are increasingly referred to as "Nike Bikies" as their attire is significantly different from that of the traditional biker. As Professor Arthur Veno has described, "They wear Nike tennis shoes rather than riding boots."[31][32]

In 2010, Derek Wainohu of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club successfully obtained a declaration from the High Court that the Crimes (Criminal Organisations Control) Act 2009 (NSW), which empowered the Supreme Court to make control orders against individual members of organisations and prevented them from associating with one another, was invalid. The High Court held, by majority, that the Act was invalid on the basis that s 13(2) placed no obligation on the eligible judge making the control order to provide reasons when making a declaration of a control order. As such, the section contravened the institutional integrity of the Supreme Court. On construction, it was held that the validity of the whole Act relied on the validity of Part 2, which contained s 13(2), and therefore the whole Act was held invalid. The state of New South Wales was ordered to pay Wainohu's costs.[33]

In 2013, Queensland enacted Criminal Law (Criminal Organisations Disruption) Amendment Act 2013 to criminalise outlaw motorcycle gangs.[34]

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