A tattoo parlour linked to international bikie gang the Mongols MC has been rammed by a stolen ute, as tensions simmer within the Christchurch underworld.
The blue ute was driven through the front of King of Ink on Linwood Ave, Linwood, about 4.20am on Friday, causing significant damage to the business.
It followed a suspected arson at Bristol Barbers on Wainoni Rd, Wainoni, about 45 minutes earlier.
It is unclear if the two incidents are linked. There was a heavy police presence at both scenes on Friday morning.
The apparent attack on the tattoo parlour comes less than a month after senior members of the Mongols, including national president Jim Thacker, travelled to the city and started a new chapter of the gang.
Former members of the Hells Angels are involved with the chapter. A woman connected to one of those men is the sole director and shareholder of King of Ink Ltd, the company that owns the tattoo parlour. She declined to comment when approached on Friday.
Nothing appeared to have been taken from either business, a police spokeswoman said.
Canterbury district commander Superintendent John Price would not comment about the tattoo parlour and barber shop incidents because they were still being investigated.
However, he said he was aware some gang members in Christchurch had recently patched over to the Mongols, which had created unrest within the underworld.
Gangs were not welcome in the city and police were watching them overtly and covertly, Price said.
“We continue to monitor the gang situation closely and have done since 2015 when a dedicated team was set up [in Canterbury] to target all gangs. They are at the forefront of our focus and attention.”
The Christchurch incidents come at a time when gang tensions in other parts of the country, particularly the Bay of Plenty, have reached boiling point.
Mongols members are believed to have been involved in a shooting late last month that left a Mongrel Mob-linked property in Tauranga riddled with bullets.
The attack was thought to be in response to the arson of a Mongols-linked barber shop, Faded N Bladed.
Police are also investigating a gang-linked double homicide near Tauranga.
Paul Lasslett, 43, and Nick Littlewood, 32, were shot dead at a property in Ormsby Ln, Omanawa, on Tuesday.
Lasslett owned the property. Littlewood was linked to the Head Hunters gang.
On Thursday night, police shot dead a suspect in the killings after he fired at officers when they tried to stop a vehicle he was in.
On Friday afternoon, a 25-year-old Bay of Plenty man was arrested at a property in New Brighton, Christchurch, in connection with the Ormsby Ln killings.
The double homicide is believed to be gang-related, but there’s no suggestion Mongols members were involved.
The Mongols, whose patch depicts Genghis Khan on a motorcycle, was founded in the United States 50 years ago and describes itself as the “baddest and fastest growing club in the world”.
The first New Zealand chapter of the gang was set up in the Bay of Plenty last year.
Thacker, 28, a former president of a Bandidos chapter in Queensland, is among hundreds of hardened criminals, known as 501s, deported to New Zealand since 2014 changes to Australian immigration law.
The arrival of the 501s, named after the character section their visas were cancelled under, has radically changed New Zealand’s gang landscape.
New groups, most notably the Comanchero MC and Mongols, have established and, according to police data, gang membership increased nearly 50 per cent in the four years to June last year.
At the end of August, the national gang register carried the names of 71 of the 501s.
Police previously said many of the deported gang members were powerful and influential figures in the Australian underworld who brought with them professionalism, a new flashy image and significant international connections.
There were concerns the arrival of the new international gangs – known for their propensity for violence, particularly their use of guns – would lead to clashes as rival groups like the Mongrel Mob tried to protect their turf.
The Hells Angels’ Christchurch-based branch, Quake City, recently disbanded.
The group moved out of its Maunsell St headquarters, which was later sold, in October last year.
In recent times, the Christchurch gang scene has been dominated by the King Cobras, Tribesmen and Mongrel Mob.
In 2017, police froze hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of assets belonging to the Head Hunters – then one of the major players in the city’s underworld – including the gang’s Sockburn headquarters.
Court proceedings in relation to that action are ongoing.