A notorious bikie gang that has set up a clubhouse on the outskirts of Christchurch will not retaliate to suspected attacks from rivals, a patched member says.
Stuff revealed Mongols MC, involved in a recent North Island shooting, appeared to have expanded into the South Island after senior members, including national president Jim Thacker, travelled to the city and started a new chapter of the gang.
On Friday, a tattoo parlour and barbershop connected to the gang were badly damaged in what appeared to be targeted attacks.
Bristol Barbers in Wainoni was set alight about 3.30am, Friday. About 45 minutes later, a stolen ute smashed into King of Ink in Linwood.
A patched member of the gang, who declined to give his full name, confirmed the gang had a clubhouse at the address, but said it was not connected to the business also on site.
Former members of the Hells Angels are involved with the Christchurch chapter. A woman connected to one of those men is the owner of King of Ink Ltd, the company that owns the tattoo parlour. The patched member confirmed the barbershop was also “sort of” connected to the gang.
“We haven’t caused any trouble, it’s just people not wanting us around … we’re new to town.”
It was too soon to say whether the incidents were an attack on the gang, he said.
“We’re not going out to go get some revenge or anything like that because that’s just what everyone expects. That’s just stupid, we’d rather just keep our family safe and move on with life, and start our businesses and be happy and ride motorbikes.
“We just let the cops do the job because we don’t want the community to feel scared … that’s not what we’re about
He expected police to come knocking on the doors of the clubhouse in the coming days.
The member, who is from the North Island but has lived in the South Island for about seven years, said the gang moved into Burnham last year. He declined to say how big the gang was, but said some of the members included former Hells Angels members and deportees from Australia.
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.
“As long as we’re not dabbling in their turf or anything we shouldn’t have any issues, but gangs are going to fight all the time,” the Christchurch member said.
“We’re not going out looking for fights or anything – we’re just trying to establish our club.”
The gang was “here to stay” in Canterbury, he said.
Canterbury district commander Superintendent John Price said on Friday 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”, he said.
WHO ARE THE MONGOLS?
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.
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.