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Comancheros vice president arrested in police raids across Victoria -

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ELEANOR HALL: To Victoria, where police have arrested 19 people who they say are linked to an outlaw motorcycle gang, including the state vice-president of the Comancheros.

Officers have been raiding properties across the state since early this morning, and have swept through 62 so far.

As Alison Caldwell reports.

ALISON CALDWELL: From about 5:30 this morning, 570 police began raiding properties around Victoria allegedly linked to the Comanchero bikie gang.

Victoria Police assistant commissioner Stephen Fontana.

STEPHEN FONTANA: To date we've arrested 18 persons. We've seized a number of firearms, some fireworks, a large quantity which we believe can be used for manufacturing improvised explosive devices, tasers, a large quantity of steroids, ammunition and cash. The investigation is still going.

ALISON CALDWELL: Among those arrested was the Comanchero's state vice-president.

Steve Fontana says at the time he was carrying a high powered hand gun along with other paraphernalia.

He says the raids are aimed at preventing a revenge attack by the Comancheros on their rival gang, the Hells Angels

STEPHEN FONTANA: There iss till an ongoing feud with the Hells Angels motorcycle club and we've got pretty good intelligence to indicate that they were planning retaliation for attacks on their premises last year.

ALISON CALDWELL: Last year the Comancheros were the target of a number of shooting attacks by the Hells Angels in Melbourne's south-east.

In one, a tattoo parlour and gym owned by Comancheros president Mick Murray was sprayed with bullets.

STEPHEN FONTANA: We're not sitting back waiting for these groups to actually retaliate again and cause risk to the public and to individuals or our members and the Comancheros is one of the, in the top group of risk to this state with the Hells Angels, the Rebels, the Mongols and the Bandidos - they're going to be the focus of our activities and we will be scaling up our resources.

ALISON CALDWELL: Last week the Echo Taskforce executed search warrants on properties connected with the Hells Angels, seizing high powered weapons, drugs and stolen property.

STEPHEN FONTANA: We can confirm that ballistics examinations on one of those high powered weapons is one of the weapons that we were looking for last year, the shooting in October last year on the Rock Machine club house where a number, about 70 rounds were fired into that premises so one of those guns. It's an SKS or it's a Chinese manufacture of an AK-47. The examination is still continuing.

ALISON CALDWELL: Steve Fontana says last year police successfully shifted Comancheros out of Mildura in Victoria's north but he says the Rebels are now trying to fill the vacuum.

He says the Comancheros have 70 members state-wide and they're not involved in innocent toy runs.

STEPHEN FONTANA: From the intel we've got they're heavily involved in the manufacture and distribution of methamphet in the state and another, you know, they've got the reputation for standing over particularly in the building industry for debt collection and things like that.

They are a serious criminal organisation. For example, recently the Finks patched over to the Mongols. The intel is that they're going to be a front for a Middle Eastern crime racket in Victoria.

They're linked back to New South Wales and we're not going to sit back and wait for this to happen so I'm putting those clubs on notice that we will be coming in hard and they'll see more of this activity.

ALISON CALDWELL: It's understood Comancheros properties in South Australia were also raided by police this morning.

ELEANOR HALL: Alison Caldwell in Melbourne.