Q. What is an outlaw motorcycle club?
Not to be confused with mere bike enthusiast clubs who meet to ride and socialise, outlaw motorcycle gangs or OMCG's are responsible for much of our nation's organised crime. OMCGs are tied up in illicit commodity markets, particularly in the drug trade, and often perpetrate high impact violence, including the use of firearms and arson.
Q. Are OMCG's prevalent in Australia?
According to the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission website, there are 39 ‘one percent’ OMCGs operating in Australia, with more than 4,760 patched members, 955 prospects and 4,585 associates. Around 44 of Australia's bikie gangs have been outlawed
Q. What does 'one percenters' mean?
Some OMCGs will refer to themselves as 'the 1%'. This is in reference to their belief that, unlike the rest of society, they are free to operate outside the law.
The following is a list of Australian outlaw motorcycle clubs -
1. Gladiators MC
Famous members: Colin 'Caesar' Campbell was initially a member of the Gladiators, but went on to become an enforcer for Comanchero MC, before ultimately becoming a member of the Bandidos. He is now the author of several books recounting his experience as a bikie.
Overview: The Gladiators Motorcycle Club was founded in Australia in 1960, the first of Australia's 'American style' motorcycle clubs. They have chapters in Grafton, Maitland and Gunnedah
Links: The following chapters are based overseas, and only have a loose connection with Gladiators MC Australia.
- Gladiators MC Bosnia and Herzegovina
- Gladiators MC Canada (St-Jean, South East Montreal, Quebec)
- Gladiators MC Germany
- Gladiators MC Netherlands
- Gladiators MC Norway
- Gladiators MC USA
- Gladiators Chicago chapter
Notable events: Gladiator clubhouses in Maitland and Grafton have been raided by the police several times, but no illegal substances or weapons have been found.
2. Outlaws MC
Fast facts: The skull and pistons in the Outlaws Motorcycle Club logo is known as “Charlie”, and the club's motto is "God Forgives, Outlaws Don't". We're getting the message loud and clear!
Overview: Outlaws MC was first founded in the US in 1935. Outlaws Australia MC was added to the clubs chapters in 1994, and a chapter was opened in Perth in 2005 (Not to be confused with Outcasts MC)
Links: The main rivals of the Outlaws are the Hell Angels. Outlaws members even have a saying which is 'Adios', the Spanish word meaning 'goodbye' that here doubles as an acronym for 'Angels Die In Outlaw States'. Outlaws MC has chapters all over the world, including in the UK and wider Europe.
Notable events: Harry 'Taco' Bowman, ex-Outlaws member and once on the FBI's most wanted list, died earlier this month while serving a life sentence in prison.
3. Comanchero MC
Famous members: William George “Jock” Ross was the founder and self-titled Supreme Commander of the Comancheros. Mick Hawi was a former Comanchero MC President who was convicted of the murder of Hells Angels MC Anthony Zervas.
Overview: The Comanchero Motorcycle Club was founded in 1966 in Sydney, Australia. The club motto is ACCA, which stands for “Always Comanchero, Comanchero Always”. The four main chapters of Comanchero MC Australia are:
- Comanchero MC Sydney
- Comanchero MC Perth
- Comanchero MC Melbourne
- Comanchero MC Adelaide
Links: Comanchero MC and the Bandidos MC are rivals Australian bikie gangs. This is because the founding of the Bandidos MC in Australiawas the result of several of the Comanchero MC members leaving the motorcycle club after disagreements over the leadership style of Jock Ross. Comanchero MC and the Hells Angels are also rival Australian biker gangs.
Notable events: Comanchero MC have been involved in many significant altercations, including The Milperra Massacre on Father's Day 1984, and the killing of Hells Angel MC Anthony Zervas in broad daylight in the Sydney Airport Brawl 2009.
4. Bandidos MC
Famous members: Donald Chambers, American founder of the club, and Anthony Snodgrass Spencer, the Australian President.
Overview: The Bandidos Motorcycle Club are also known as the Bandido Nation and are one of the largest one percenter motorcycle clubs. The motto of Bandidos MC is “We are the people our parents warned us about” and they also use the acronym BFFB, which stands for "Bandidos Forever, Forever Bandidos." In Australia, the first chapter was founded in Sydney in 1983 by former members of Comanchero MC.
Links: Allies of the Bandidos include the Mongols MC and the Mobshitters MC, other groups on the list of outlaw motorcycle gangs. Rivals of the Bandidos include Comanchero MC and the Hells Angels MC.
Notable Events: The Bandidos were also involved in the infamous Milperra Massacre.
Video: 60 Minutes feature on the Milperra Massacre
5. Rebels MC
Famous members: Alex Vella, also known as The Maltese Falcon.
Overview: Rebels MC was founded in Brisbane, Australia in 1969. They are the largest outlaw motorcycle club in Australia and have approximate 70 chapters in this country alone.
Links: Bandidos MC, Lone Wolf MC and Nomads MC are all other outlaw motorcycle gangs who are enemies of Rebels MC.
Notable Events: In November 200, police raided Rebels clubhouses in New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia, confiscating drugs, weapons and even a crocodile. Mark Judge is thought to be a Rebels MC associate, and in 2009 he was found with television actress Jodi Gordon hiding from supposed intruders. It is believed that they were experiencing drug induced hallucinations at the time because they called the police themselves to attend the property.
6. Odin's Warriors MC
Overview: Classing Odin's Warriors as an outlaw motorcycle gang has proved slightly problematic. Some members of the club have committed serious crimes, whilst others have donated large amounts to various charities and hospitals. There are those that have written off these donations as a mere smoke screen.
Links: Outlaws MC have been a rival club of Odin's Warriors
Video: News report on the 1997 Mackay shoot-out
7. Hells Angels MC
Famous members: There are many famous members but an Australian figure worth mentioning is senior Hells Angels member Peter Zervas, brother of the man murdered in the Sydney Airport Brawl.
Overview: The Hells Angels Motorcycle Club is one of the largest one percenter motorcycle clubs in the world, with bikie gangs in the United States of America, Canada, Australia and throughout Europe. The Hells Angels MC expanded to Australia in 1975
Links: Rival gangs include, but are not limited to, Comencharo MC, Bandidos MC, Nomads MC. Allies include the Coffin Cheaters, Immortals, Red Devils, Satans Soldiers, Vikings
Notable Events: Too many to count. Members of the club in both Australia and overseas have been convicted of violent crimes like murder, drug dealing, trafficking in stolen goods, and extortion, and have been arrested in connection with prostitution. The club as a whole insists that they are merely a club for motorcycle enthusiasts, and the actions of individuals do not represent the entire club's ethos.
8. Gypsy Jokers MC
Famous members: Sidney “Snot” Reid, once described as Australia's most protected prisoner after testifying against fellow Gypsy Joker member Graham “Slim” Slater
Overview: Gypsy Jokers MC was established in the 1970s. As with some outlaw motorcycle club's patches, the Gypsy Joker patch has three major variations. The Australian patch depicts a laughing skull with an earring through the left ear.
Links: In the early days of the club, Gypsy Jokers considered Hells Angels as rivals.
Notable Events: Sidney Reid’s involvement in the killing of former CIB boss Don Hancock and his friend Lou Lewis in a car bomb in Lathlain in 2001. This murder came after the Jokers held Hancock responsible for the shooting death of their brother Billy Grierson at Ora Banda in 2000.
9. The Nomads MC
The Nomads emblem contains an antisemitic symbol, so it will not be shown here.
Famous members: Sam Ibrahim, brother of well known former Kings Cross nightclub owner John Ibrahim.
Overview: Founded in Sydney, Australia during the 1980s, The Nomads have multiple chapters throughout Australia. They do not have any chapters internationally.
Rough geographical locations of the chapters are:
- Nomads Adelaide chapter
- Nomads Newcastle chapter
- Nomads Parramatta / Girraween / Wetherill Park chapter (Western Sydney)
- Nomads Sydney / Marrickville chapter
Links: Hells Angels MC and Rebels MC are rivals.
Notable Events: In May, 2015 12 people associated with the Nomads Motorcycle Club, including 2 high ranking members, were arrested in NSW/Adelaide raids. The group includes mainly members from the Nomads Adelaide chapter. Charges included soliciting to murder, kidnapping, blackmail and assault. Included in those arrested were the Adelaide chapter President, Adelaide Sgt-At-Arms and the New South Wales Vice President.
10. Life and Death MC
Famous members: Tony 'Bones' Lowe, president of the Life and Death MC Toowoomba chapter, being interviewed here by The Chronicle.
Overview: Life and Death MC was founded in 1978. In terms of the outlaw motorcycle clubs territory maps, Life and Death MC holds the entire Hawksbury District in Sydney’s Western Suburbs.
Notable Events: Life and Death MC members were responsible for the murder of Newcastle businessman Simon McHugh in 1992 and the murder of a Central Coast man in 1998 when a violent debt collection/home invasion went wrong.
Lawful Motorcycle Clubs
As we mentioned, not all motorcycle clubs or their member engage in unsavoury activities. There are plenty of groups that fuse their love of motorbikes with their desire to help a good cause.
Overview: Infidel MC was founded in Australia in 2011 by to provide support to veterans. According to the Australia Criminal Intelligence Commission website, they are not an outlawed gang.
Notable Events: They hold car and bike shows in the Sydney Veterans Lodge located in Wentworthville, New South Wales.
Bikers Against Child Abuse (BACA) - Australian Chapter
Bikers Against Child Abuse is an organisation that takes the intimidating stereotype of a biker, and uses it to provide support to abused children and their families, whether it be escorting a child to and form court, or former a physical barrier between a child and their abuser. BACA members must go through police checks and anyone who comes under their protection goes through an extensive evaluation before the group agrees to take on their case.