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2013-03-13 08:52

LEATHER MEETS THE LAW: Police in Sydney, Australia, have raided dozens of biker dens in and around the city in search of drugs, guns, ammunition and criminal connections.

SYDNEY, Australia - Hundreds of heavily armed Australian police swooped on Tuesday on motorcycle gangs in Sydney and its suburbsd and seized explosives, guns, drugs and cash and arrested high-ranking members.

Some 350 took part in dawn raids on March 12 2013 on 30 properties across Sydney and elsewhere in New South Wales ''targeting the Hell's Angels, Rebels and Comancheros as well as Asian and Balkan crime organisations, police said.

They confirmed "a senior member of the Hell's Angels" was among 19 people arrested during the raids which also recovered ammunition, a stun gun and a bulletproof vest.

TWO-YEAR PROBE

"A total of 19 people were arrested during the operation, the result of ongoing investigations," New South Wales police said, adding that four people had been charged. "Search warrants are ongoing and further charges are anticipated."

Police said the raids were part of a two-year investigation into the supply of firearms, explosives and drugs to organised crime groups after intercepting more than 500 000 phone calls.

Detective Chief Superintendent Mick Plotecki, commander of the Organised Crime Squad said a number of international links were identified. "There are senior members from the Rebels, Comancheros, Hell's Angels; we also have Balkan organised crime and Asian organised crime involved in this inquiry."

The Asian and Balkan groups were allegedly involved in supplying drugs and guns to rival biker gangs, he said.

ANTI-GANG TASK FORCE

Police said the arrests would have a significant effect. Commissioner Andrew Scipione said: "A number of significant illegal supply chains have been severed, which will reduce the availability of guns and drugs to those organised criminal groups."

Australian prime minister Julia Gillard said earlier in March (2013) that her government would set up an anti-gang task force to combat "the gangs and guns on our streets", noting an increase in shootings in public places in New South Wales in recent years.

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