OFF THE WIRE
Australian bikies with dubious reputations are now infiltrating Thailand and gang members have opened businesses on Phuket, reports an Australian newspaper.
Hells Angels and Bandidos club members ''own nightspots in Thailand tourist centres that have become popular haunts for bikies worldwide,'' reports the Courier-Mail newspaper, which is based in the northern Australian state of Queensland.
Members of the Bandidos - who acquired four new chapters in Indonesia during ''Bandidos Bali Bike Week'' earlier this year - are looking to set up business as far afield as Japan, a Queensland police source told the newspaper.
Thailand was significant as a source of chemicals for drug manufacture and trafficking and scrutiny of the travels of Gold Coast bikies' travel would show ''a lot of trips'' to the country, the officer said.
''A lot of them are looking into Thailand - it gives them the opportunity to source pharmaceuticals. Hells Angels and Bandidos have got premises in Thailand.
''Of course, the Finks [another prominent bikie club] can't be left behind and they're looking too.''
The newspaper names one bar in Patong and another on Koh Samui as having been purchased by bikies with Hells Angels connections.
The newspaper report on bikie connections on Phuket and in Asia is part of a series on the activities of Australian gangs at home and overseas. It's titled 'Bikie Inc, Organised Crime on the Glitter Strip.'
Some have been involved in alleged property scams on Phuket, the report says.
Danish, British and Norwegian bikie gang members have also been connected to the activities of Australian gang members, the report adds.
Phuket expat motorcycle riders have always distanced themselves from gang activities and drugs and drawn the distinction between bikers and ''bikies.''