Monday, October 22, 2007

RICO Laws Heading to Australia

Tough anti-racketeering laws used in America to defeat the Mafia are likely to be introduced in Australia to smash lawless Queensland bikie gangs.

This follows a warning from the Australian Crime Commission of increasing motorcycle gang involvement in the manufacture and trafficking of drugs, extortion, theft, identity fraud, illegal gambling, money laundering, prostitution, car rebirthing, arson and murder.

"Most Australians would be absolutely horrified if they knew what a deep hold the bikies have on all kinds of criminal activity in Australia," said Queensland senator Ian Macdonald. Senator Macdonald is chairman of a federal parliamentary committee investigating organised crime.
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The committee has recommended the introduction of so-called RICO laws, based on the American Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organisations Act. The powerful Act gives US crime investigators wider powers to investigate and coerce associates of criminals and to treat gangs as single criminal enterprises.

"Because of the bikie gang stranglehold on organised crime, we need legislation similar to RICO, but updated to suit the times," Senator Macdonald said. He said legal advisers had also suggested a toughening of old laws to outlaw consorting over the internet or on mobile phones.

Senator Macdonald's joint parliamentary committee recently took evidence into organised crime and the Australian Crime Commission at hearings around Australia. He said some of the evidence, much of it given in secret, was "stunning".

Police told the inquiry that bikie gangs were now conducting joint ventures with ethnic gangs and had links to international crime syndicates. They had also established companies to launder drug money and they were recruiting children to fence stolen property.

Queensland police and the Crime and Misconduct Commission backed the introduction of RICO laws and again appealed to the State Government to pass phone-tapping laws.

Veteran investigative crime journalist Bob Bottom - who also gave evidence at the Brisbane hearings - also backed the introduction of RICO laws and telephone taps.

He said the Gold Coast was a crime centre in Australia in much the same way that US gangsters flocked to Florida from where they ran vast criminal networks.

Thanks to Des Houghton

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