Reports by Cam Lucadou-Wells
UPDATE: 9.28am, Wednesday
Sixteen people have been charged following police raids of properties believed to be linked to the Comancheros outlaw motorcycle gang on 14 March.
A 35-year-old Lyndhurst man was charged with 15 offences including trafficking a large commercial quantity of meth, inciting another to intentionally cause injury and recklessly endanger life, conspiracy to commit criminal damage by fire, possessing an unregistered handgun and traffic offences.
A 31-year-old Cranbourne North man was charged with offences including aggravated burglary, criminal damage by fire, kidnapping, two counts of motor theft and five counts of breaching bail.
They were remanded to appear at Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on 15 March after an overnight court hearing.
Four people, including a 29-year-old Dandenong South man and a 27-year-old Narre Warren South man, were charged with drugs, firearms offences and conspiracy to engage in reckless conduct endangering life and remanded to appear at Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on 20 March.
Six people from Tyabb, Berwick, Beaconsfield, Cranbourne West, Cranbourne and Clyde North were bailed to appear at Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on 20 March on a variety of drug and fire arm offences.
According to Victoria Police, four others were bailed and three were expected to be charged on summons.
Three of the 22 people arrested were released without charge.
Police, including Echo Taskforce officers, raided 25 residential properties, a factory and a business from 5am on March 14.
Most of the premises were based in Melbourne’s south-east.
Investigators allegedly seized vehicles, a firearm, jewellery, cash and several types of drugs, including cocaine, methamphetamine, GHB, cannabis, ecstasy and steroids.
UPDATE: 2.40pm Tuesday
Senior members of the Comancheros outlaw motorcycle gang – including a Lyndhurst man – have been arrested during a series of early-morning police raids mainly in Melbourne’s south-east on 14 March.
It is expected that 13 of the arrested people to front court by Tuesday afternoon.
Assistant Commissioner Stephen Fontana said a “very senior” Comancheros member was arrested at a house at Tobin Way, Lyndhurst, where at least two vehicles were seized by police.
Though police had arrested 21 people, including “key players”, Mr Fontana said the OMCGs “don’t stop”.
“They seem to be able to recruit and continue their activity, but we’ll continue to pursue them,” he said.
Police, including the Echo Taskforce and the Australian Federal Police anti-gang unit, had investigated a Comancheros and Rebels bikie gang feud including the fire-bombing of a Kittens nightclub in July, he said.
Some of those arrested in the 14 March raids would be charged over a firebombing of a Rebels clubhouse in Dandenong in October.
During their investigations, police had also “effectively disrupted” other fire-bombings and drive-by shootings, Mr Fontana said.
“It’s not uncommon for these groups to be fighting over territory and illicit activity.
“Our challenge is really to stay on top of that.”
He said the OMCGs were organised crime groups involved in serious crime on a daily basis, such as drug trafficking, extortion, arson and stand-over tactics.
“They will be brought to account for their activities.”
About 300 state and federal police were involved in the latest raids on 26 homes and a factory
UPDATE: 1.13pm Tuesday
Police have arrested people in Lyndhurst, Dandenong South, Narre Warren, Cranbourne, Berwick, Beaconsfield and Pakenham during an early-morning operation targeting the Comancheros outlaw motorcycle gang on 14 March.
Twenty-six homes and a factory were raided in suburbs across Melbourne, also including Cranbourne North, Cranbourne West, Keysborough, Clyde North, Lysterfield South and Eumemmerring.
According to police, 15 men and six women have so far been arrested, including:
• A 35-year-old Lyndhurst woman;
• A 35-year-old Lyndhurst man;
• A 29-year-old Dandenong South man;
• A 28-year-old Narre Warren South man;
• A 30-year-old Berwick man;
• A 33-year-old Cranbourne North woman;
• A 29-year-old Cranbourne North man;
• A 31-year-old Pakenham woman;
• A 33-year-old Cranbourne West man;
• A 29-year-old Keysborough man;
• A 27-year-old Cranbourne man;
• A 31-year-old Clyde North man;
• A 28-year-old Beaconsfield man;
• A 32-year-old Eumemmering woman;
• A 35-year-old Cranbourne North man.
Police seized several items including vehicles, a gun, jewellery, cash as well as cocaine, methylamphetamine, GHB, cannabis, ecstasy and steroids.
Assistant Commissioner Steve Fontana said the operation was part of a Comancheros-related investigation into fire-bombings and more than 20 non-fatal drive-by shootings dating back to July.
“We are not intimidated by OMCGs and we will not allow our communities to be,” he said.
“We know these groups have long histories of engaging in warfare amongst themselves, however the indiscriminate nature of their attacks including drive-by shootings means there is immense potential to endanger innocent members of the public.
“This is above and beyond the harm they already do our communities through manufacture and trafficking of drugs.”
UPDATE: 10.38am Tuesday
Watch dramatic footage from the raids.
UPDATE: 10.08am Tuesday
Up to 21 people are expected to be charged with drug trafficking, fire-bombing and drive-by shooting offences after a series of early-morning police raids targeting the Commancheros outlaw motorcycle gang on 14 March.
Assistant Commissioner Stephen Fontana said the bikie gang’s members and associates were believed to be involved in 21 non-fatal shootings, four arsons and serious drug trafficking and firearms crime.
The fire-bombing of Kittens’ strip club in South Melbourne in 2016 was one of the alleged offences, Mr Fontana said.
He said 27 properties were raided by Echo Taskforce, crime command and regional detectives in Melbourne’s southern metropolitan police area from 5am.
BREAKING 9am Tuesday
Police have seized cars, drugs and cash from 25 residential and commercial properties across Melbourne, including Tobin Way, Lyndhurst, in early-morning raids targeting the Commancheros outlaw motorcycle gang on 14 March.
According to police, 20 people have been arrested in the Echo Taskforce raids from 5am.
By 8am, a red Club Sport Commodore and a grey Range Rover were seized from a home in Tobin Way in a neat, quiet estate in Lyndhurst.
Two motorcycles were also parked inside the garage as police officers combed the home.
A next-door neighbour said there had been several police visits in recent weeks, though others said they hadn’t suspected anything untoward and that the occupants kept to themselves.
“We’ve seen a couple of motorbikes being driven out of there,” a neighbour said.
“There seemed to be a few young people there during the day.”