AFP double down on gang seizures

Federal police gang investigators have seized two firearms per week on average over the past year.
Federal police gang investigators have seized two firearms per week on average over the past year.

Federal police investigating bikies and other criminal gangs say they have taken more drugs, more cash and almost twice as many firearms off the streets in the past year.

Ninety-nine guns were taken from alleged gang members and associates by its National Anti-Gangs Squad in 2020-2021, the AFP says.

That is up from 51 firearms seized over the previous 12 months.

More than $3.6 million in suspected crime proceeds was confiscated compared to $1.56 million in 2019-2020, while the 231 charges laid by the squad was a 35 per cent increase.

The firearms haul included concealable loaded handguns and military-grade automatic firearms capable of firing several rounds a second, the AFP says.

"Many of the weapons were found loaded and easily accessible to offenders, increasing the dangers to police and the public," the agency said in a statement on Saturday.

Sixteen guns including a fully automatic Chinese copy of an AK-47 rifle and a SPAS 12 Gauge shotgun as well as power gel explosives were found at one Perth property during Operation Ironside.

It is suspected they were stockpiled for the Comanchero bikies.

An investigation in NSW into the manufacture and supply of prohibited firearms also resulted in officers seizing two 3D-printed submachine guns and three other firearms.

A further 34 guns and parts were seized during investigations led by the gangs squad between July and October.

In Queensland, three men linked to the Hells Angels were charged after seven firearms including handguns and assault rifles were seized, while in Victoria a loaded 0.45 Sig Sauer handgun, a homemade handgun and a silencer were found at the home of a Mongols gang member.

Detective Superintendent Jason McArthur says about 90 per cent of the threats to life identified during Operation Ironside are directly related to outlaw motorcycle gangs.

"The AFP and our state and territory police partners, intercepted and disrupted plots to shoot, bash or kidnap both rivals and innocent people," he said.

"The number of firearms seized ... around the country last financial year and so far this year - almost two a week on average - highlights the access outlaw motorcycle gangs have to weapons that are used to follow through with their violent plans."

He said of 311 people arrested by the AFP and state and territory police during Operation Ironside, more than 100 are members or known associates of outlaw motorcycle gangs.

Australian Associated Press