Five men accused of belonging to or being “associated with” the Rebels Motorcycle Club in the Australian State of Queensland were arrested today for violating Queensland’s Vicious Lawless Association Disestablishment Bill last month. The Bill prohibits three or more members of “a criminal gang” from meeting in a public place. All five face mandatory sentences of six months imprisonment in a special punitive lockup.
After receiving a tip from an unnamed source, police observed the five men drinking beer on archived surveillance video recorded at the Yandina Hotel bar near Brisbane. The men were not drinking together. Police allege all five men are members of the Sunshine Coast chapter of the Rebels MC. The chapter has been in existence for 22 years and during that time no member of the chapter has ever been charged with a criminal offence.
Last month American ATF agent John Ciccone, who has devoted his career to putting bikers in prison, told the Australian Associated Press that he was cooperating with Australia’s anti-bikie cops on a “daily basis.” Ciccone expressed his appreciation for the new Australian laws and described them as “outstanding.”
Australian For Crime
Four of the accused men were observed drinking in pairs on opposite sides of the large bar. The fifth man drank alone but occupied the same establishment as the other four.
According to a Rebel named Mike Smith, only two the arrestees are members of the club. Smith told the Brisbane Times that when he entered the bar he was unaware that his two sons and another Rebel were already there. Smith told the Times he went to the local pub to have a beer with his son-in-law who is not a member of the club. Police consider the son-in-law to be affiliated with the Rebels because he installed gutters on the Rebels’ clubhouse.
“What threat do a group of blokes having a beer on the veranda of a pub pose to anyone,” Smith asked the Times. Smith said he and two club brothers were ordered to leave a Queensland court room last month while waiting to testify at a trial. According to Smith, a police sergeant told those three men they could be arrested under the anti-association law for sitting in the same courtroom. The Rebel also said Queensland’s anti-bikie laws were intended to “trap people” rather than prevent crimes.
Operation Lima Birch
The five men were arrested in five paramilitary raids carried out by Australia’s anti-biker army, Taskforce Maxima. The five arrests had been planned for two weeks and were codenamed Operation Lima Birch.
A police press release stated, “The charges relate to the men allegedly associating for several hours at a hinterland hotel in early November…All men are known members of the Rebels Criminal Motorcycle Gang…A 26-year-old man is assisting police investigations.”
A police spokesman, Detective Superintendent Mick Niland, was quoted as saying, “This sends a clear message to all members of criminal motorcycle gangs that police will take action in every instance where evidence and information is received. Police from the Sunshine Coast have done a great job investigating the information provided by the community which has resulted in a positive result today. I’d like to reinforce to the community across the state to continue to assist police to stop illegal activities and criminal actions of gang members.”