A national crackdown on bikie gangs has helped sweep almost 700 illegal firearms off Australian streets in the past 12 months, along with more than $200 million worth of methamphetamine and other drugs.
The Australian Federal Police anti-gang squad also helped authorities in the US crack a major gun-smuggling ring shipping handguns and assault rifles to Australia.
About 300 of those weapons, including several AR-15 assault rifles, were seized in Victoria last year and a further 4500 guns were seized in the US by the Department of Homeland Security from information provided by Australian authorities.
Federal Justice Minister Michael Keenan said the efforts of the national anti-gang squad and State police forces to target motorcycle gangs was helping to keep the nation’s streets safe from the threat of gun crime.
“These gangs are not misunderstood or a community minded brotherhood,” Mr Keenan said.
“They are organised criminal gangs that rely heavily on the illegal drug market to make a profit.”
He said that while most of the guns seized last year were found in Victoria, those weapons would eventually have moved to other States, including WA.
“Once illicit guns arrive in our country it is extremely challenging to stop them moving from State to State,” he said.
The anti-gang squad works with State police, providing additional resources to assist with operations targeting bikies.
In WA last year, their work resulted in the arrest of 24 people who were charged with 83 offences.
More than 1000 people have been charged around the country with about 3100 offences since the squad was formed in 2014.
Last year, $1.4 million of cash from bikie gangs was seized, along with 170kg of meth, 660kg of cannabis and more than 100,000 ecstasy tablets.
There are an estimated 40 Outlaw Motorcycle Gang clubs in Australia, with about 435 chapters and about 4445 members.
“Organised crime gangs run national operations, have no respect for the law and no respect for State borders,” Mr Keenan said.
“The success of our operation shows we’re confronting this challenge head on, stopping the spread of illicit firearms.”