Cops swoop on bike gang

By Kristin Edge

Police made five arrests and seized three bikes plus a late model car as members of the Tribesmen Motorcycle Club rode north to celebrate their 30th anniversary.

A team of 36 police officers set up a checkpoint near Oakleigh Service Station, south of Whangarei, about midday yesterday and intercepted the convoy.

Those arrested were charged with possession of cannabis and breach of bail while two were found to be disqualified from driving and another failed a roadside drug test.

One bike seized was a Harley Davidson which was taken after investigations showed the owner owed thousands of dollars in court fines.

Officers checked riders had the correct licences and that their vehicles were warranted and registered. About 19 tickets were dished out for driving and vehicle offences. Cars were also searched.

The riders were on their way to a property near Lake Ohia, 35km northeast of Kaitaia, where police believe they were celebrating the club's 30th anniversary.

Northland police operations manager Inspector Marty Ruth made no excuses for the tough line.

"At the end of the day, these guys' very existence preys on society. They sell drugs to the community to exist ... they try and intimidate people.

"The checkpoint and police action was what the public would expect us to do with people who survive on criminal activities."

About 30 patched gang members mainly from the Otara chapter were checked along with another 30 people who were associated with the gang.

Police said the bulk of the riders were patched Tribesmen but there were also associates from the Killerbees and Highway 61.

He said police would be paying particular attention to those involved with the anniversary celebrations with extra staff being rostered on.

"There are further police actions that will control their actions and provide reassurance to the public," Mr Ruth said.

In previous police checkpoints, the Rebels motorcycle gang came under scrutiny after they carried out an Easter weekend run last year.

The Rebels moved into a building in Porowini Ave, a commercial area in Whangarei, but due to police and public pressure they moved out just a few months later. Police manning checkpoints at both ends of Porowini Ave far outnumbered gang members before they set out on their ride.

When about 25 riders rolled out of the pad for their run, they were stopped and checked by about 30 police staff.

At least five of the members were stopped from riding and had to wheel their bikes back down the road to the compound after it was discovered they had no licence or were breaching learner licences.

- Northern Advocate

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