One of the most notorious bikie gangs in the world has grabbed a foothold in New Zealand for the first time.
The Mongols were first established in the United States in 1969 and spread to 12 other countries, including Australia recently where they quickly earned a reputation for violence.
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Now the Mongols - whose patch shows a character resembling Genghis Khan riding a motorcycle - have opened a chapter in the Bay of Plenty.
Around 20 patched members are believed to be under the leadership of a 28-year-old man deported from Australia last year.
He was a member of the Bandidos, a rival gang to the Mongols, in Queensland but has switched allegiances after falling out with the New Zealand leadership of his former club.
Companies Office records show the new Mongol president has set up a motorcycle repair business and is registered as living near Matata in the eastern Bay of Plenty.
He is one of the thousands of "501" deportees - so nicknamed because of the "character grounds" section of the immigration law used to remove them from Australia over the last five years.
Among those sent "home" to New Zealand were senior members of Australian motorcycle clubs which did not have chapters here, such as the Finks, Mongols and Comancheros.
Organised crime detectives were quick to recognise the threat of the Australian newcomers to radically change the landscape, as they were hardened from inter-gang warfare with firearms and had strong ties with international crime syndicates.
News of the official establishment of the Mongols in recent months comes at a time when the New Zealand gang scene is already exploding. Figures released by Police Minister Stuart Nash estimates there are now 6500 gang members in New Zealand, an increase of 26 per cent in the last two years.
This is likely to be from the arrival of the Australian gangs dating back to 2010 - first the Rebels, then the Bandidos and Comancheros - as well as a recruitment drive from existing New Zealand gangs such as the Head Hunters and Mongrel Mob to protect their patch.
Profits from New Zealand's burgeoning and lucrative methamphetamine market is also a factor in the spike in gang numbers, police allege.
"New Zealand isn't a big place. Everyone was sharing the market, taking their slice of the pie," Detective Superintendent Greg Williams said.
"But we've seen gang numbers grow, arming up [with firearms], which shows that something has changed."
Williams, who is in charge of the National Organised Crime Group, confirmed police were aware of the new Mongols chapter.
"There again is another significant Australian gang that's establishing itself in New Zealand."
The emergence of the Mongols has the potential to create even more conflict nationally, but especially in the Bay of Plenty which has long been a stronghold for the Filthy Few, Greazy Dogs and Mongrel Mob.
In recent years, the Head Hunters and Rebels have established a presence too, while Comancheros and Bandidos are seen regularly in the region.
The 'Mongol Nation' started in California in 1969 with a mostly Hispanic membership, in direct opposition to the Hells Angels, before spreading across the United States.
There are now chapters in Mexico, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Switzerland, Thailand, Italy.
Six years ago, the Mongols expanded into five states in Australia where they clashed with other motorcycle gangs like the Finks.
Law enforcement consider the Mongols to be the "most violent and dangerous" motorcycle gang in the United States.
In December last year, a decade-long prosecution ended with a Californian jury finding the Mongol Nation to be a criminal enterprise guilty of racketeering, conspiracy to murder, attempted murder and drug dealing.
The case was the result of an investigation – Operation Black Rain – in which four undercover agents successfully infiltrated the Mongols to become full-patch members.
Four other agents also went undercover to pose as their girlfriends. The undercover agents developed and maintained biker personas, and they had to undergo rigorous scrutiny by the Mongols to be accepted as members.
When one of the agents received his patch, one of the gang's members said: "Being a Mongol promises you one of two things – death or prison."