Recent arrests in South Australia confirm the Rock Machine outlaw motorcycle club, an import from Canada, has expanded into Australia.
Among those arrested by SA police in the past few weeks have been men alleged to be the club’s local president and secretary.
The alleged president, 41-year-old Alexander Illich, has been charged with drug and firearms offences. He denies the charges.
The secretary, who is yet to be identified, has been charged with drug trafficking and will face court next month.
At a bail hearing for Illich, police alleged they’d found a loaded Glock pistol, and around 1.5kg of a substance believed to be methamphetamine.
On September 2, a 36-year-old Whyalla man was arrested for drug trafficking.
Police confirmed to 7NEWS.com.au that they allege he is a member of the Rock Machine. He’ll also face court in October.
On September 5, a 49-year-old man and 54-year-old woman, also both allegedly linked to the Rock Machine, were arrested in the northern Adelaide suburb of Gawler East for alleged amphetamine trafficking. They’ll be in court early next year.
Australia has a long history of outlaw motorcycle club imports.
The Hells Angels were the first, bringing with them the family recipe for amphetamines honed in the drug labs of California.
It was the birth of an epidemic that has gripped the nation in recent decades.
Next came the Bandidos, whose first major public appearance was at the Milperra Massacre on Father’s Day 1984, where they battled against the home-grown Comancheros.
Seven people died, including 14-year-old innocent bystander Leanne Walters.
More recently we’ve had the Mongols – described by the US Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives as “the most violent and dangerous” of all outlaw motorcycle clubs – turn up on the doorstep.
Now we have Canada’s Rock Machine, with a history steeped in the blood of bikers and bystanders alike.
The Rock Machine is similar to Sydney’s Notorious outlaw club, nicknamed the Nike Bikies because of their penchant for fashion footwear, good personal hygiene and frequent gym visits.
It was founded in Quebec, as competition for the Hells Angels, under the control of the homicidal Maurice ‘Mom’ Boucher.
The Angels were allied to the Rizzuto mafia crime family, portrayed in the TV series Bad Blood starring Anthony LaPaglia.
The club was backed by owners of Montreal’s providers of seedier bars and alleged ‘entertainment’ venues.
Between 1994 and 2002, the Rock Machine and Hell Angels fought a deadly turf war over drugs and money laundering.
Around 160 people died in bombings, shootings – both drive-by and execution-style – and arson attacks.
Seventeen innocent people died, including 11-year-old Daniel Desroches, killed by a car bomb on his way home from school.
Like many outlaw biker battles we’ve seen in Australia, the safety of innocent bystanders is irrelevant.
The biker war decimated the Rock Machine.
Its last gasp attempt at survival was a ‘merger’ with the Bandidos, which was looking to expand its North American operations.
The merger didn’t work out, which may have been fortunate as the Bandidos did some internal cleansing in Shedden, Ontario in 2006.
In a criminal masterstroke, six Bandidos murdered eight colleagues.
The bulk of members ended up either in a grave or behind bars.
The Bandidos’ leadership in Texas put Canadian expansion in the “too hard” basket.
”There is still a Rock Machine presence in Canada, but not a significant one in comparison to the Quebec Biker War era (1994-2002),” a spokesperson for The Royal Canadian Mounted Police told 7NEWS.com.au.
However, they’re not rated as an important threat.
Rock Machine in Australia
First reports of the club in Australia came from Perth in 2009.
In 2013, Taskforce Echo, Victoria’s biker taskforce, reported the Rock Machine was aligned with the Bandidos in Victoria and had around five chapters in Australia.
In September 2013, their Clayton South clubhouse was the target of a drive-by shooting.
About 70 rounds fired from an AK-47 hit the clubhouse. No injuries were reported.
While they’ve been below the radar for a few years, the recent Adelaide arrests suggest the club hasn’t been idle.
South Australian Police have described the club as an “emerging threat” – and a target of their outlaw biker strategy to “disrupt, disable and dismantle”.
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