And then there's the Calabrian mafia that have infiltrated Melbourne, and the so-called African "gangs" that have allegedly turned the streets of the Victorian capital into "war zones" while spreading fear throughout an otherwise peaceful community.
Are there crime gangs still in Melbourne? Is the mafia calling the shots? Should Melburnians be scared of teenage gangs? Read on to find out.
The Melbourne gangland war was a brutal and bloody battle of power that started with the killing of gangster Alphonse Gangitano, and ended more than 30 murders later in 2010.
At the heart of the bloodshed was a feud between drug kingpin Carl Williams and the Moran family.
In 1999, the drug-dealing Moran brothers Jason and Mark tried to kill their rival Williams over a debt, but he survived a gun shot wound to the belly. From then, he was a man on a crazed mission of revenge.
Williams killed Mark and organised the killings of four more underworld figures, including Jason, and his father Lewis Moran.
He was arrested in 2004 and sentenced to 35 years’ prison over the murders.
He was killed in prison at the age of 39 in 2010 by inmate Matthew Charles Johnson. Williams is survived by his daughter Dhakota, now 18, from his marriage to Roberta Williams.
“He hated the Morans, he was frightened of them,” said Melbourne journalist Andrew Rule, who co-authored Leadbelly, upon which the Underbelly series was based. “He was determined to rub them out before they did the same to him.”
Other operators in the war included the Carlton Crew, of which businessman Mick Gatto has been associated, the Radev gang (run by Nik "The Russian" Radev), the Sunshine Crew and the Honoured Society, which is a mafia-controlled group.
Not long ago, the Italian mafia spread its roots all the way to Melbourne. A joint Fairfax-ABC investigation in 2015 revealed that the 'Ndrangheta mafia, or Calabrian mafia, were "alive and flourishing" in Australia. According to the report, the organised criminal group, which is based in southern Italy, were bringing in massive quantities of drugs into Australia, and selling weapons.
In 2016, Domenico Agresta, turned snitch with Italian justice and testified against his criminal family.
Agresta has confirmed that in Melbourne "there are members of the 'Ndrangheta, members of his family, that emigrated to Australia and have established in Australia at least two different locales in Australia," said Stefano Castellani, a prosecutor who took Agresta's statement.
Their rivals in Melbourne include the infamous Carlton Crew, which had included the now-deceased members Alphonse Gangitano, Mario Condello and Graham Kinniburgh.
In 2018, Melbourne endured what was sensationally dubbed an "African Gang Crisis", which included alleged criminal activity by Apex , a group of young males committing crimes.
But the truth was a little more sober.
In 2016, a group identified as the Apex gang were believed to be responsible for a violent brawl that saw 53 people arrested at the Moomba festival.
Then in 2018, there were three incidents in Melbourne that involved youths of African appearance: a brawl at the McDonald’s in St Kilda, the trashing of an Airbnb property after a wild party in Werribee, and the assault of a police officer at Highpoint Shopping Centre.
The Werribee incident was believed to have been committed by a group called Menace to Society, which is understood to be comprised of young Sudanese men.
According to some politicians and news outlets, Melbourne was plunged into a "state of fear", but police were quick to hose things down. Deputy Police Commissioner Shane Patton told The Guardian at the time that the groups weren't gangs, because they had no structure or organisation.
Further, police said it wasn't so much a growing problem, but an ongoing problem, as it is in most big cities.
“Let’s not say that all of the African community are criminals because they are not," said Patton. "The vast majority are good people This is a small group of youths. We will target them. We will hold them to account.”