Queensland Police monitor barber shop openings for links

NEW barber shops are coming under the microscope as police hunt for links to bikie gangs and organised crime.

One barber who asked to remain anonymous said bikie involvement was "rampant" and bringing "negative heat" to the industry.

Acting Detective Inspector Ian Galpin, of the Major and Organised Crime Squad, said police frequently probed businesses for organised crime links.

He said barber shops were often cash businesses and provided opportunities for money laundering.

"We are constantly monitoring the opening of barber shops to identify any links with outlaw motorcycle gang members or associates," he said.

"We are aware of various businesses (barber shops or otherwise) with links to outlaw motorcycle gangs. That said, their involvement can often be concealed and we welcome any information in relation to any businesses in which any outlaw motorcycle gang members have a vested interest."

Earlier this year, Brisbane Broncos enforcer Tevita Pangai Jnr was fined and stood down from the club for breaching COVID-19 restrictions after he attended the opening of the Mongols-linked Black Canvas Southside in Logan. After the breach, Pangai Jnr denied he had any bikie links.

Tevita Pangai Jnr at training. Picture: Annette Dew
Tevita Pangai Jnr at training. Picture: Annette Dew

The opening was raided by detectives from Taskforce Maxima on August 8, after which alleged Mongol Harley Barbaro was charged with breaching bail for a consorting charge.

Prominent Gold Coast lawyer Michael Gatenby, of Gatenby Criminal Lawyers, said laws introduced under the Newman government pushed bikies out of tattoo parlours and into other areas.

"There's no doubt police are looking into barber shops, but this is the problem with the laws as we've got them. You've driven people underground, you've taken them away from what was obvious activities where police could watch them more closely. It's barber shops today but it will be something else tomorrow."

Alleged Mongol Harley Barbaro. Picture: Jerad Williams
Alleged Mongol Harley Barbaro. Picture: Jerad Williams

One barber said links to bikie gangs and money laundering were rampant.

" They're definitely ramping up these days. The cops have really got to do something about that because … they can't be in the tattoo industry now. They're all trying to buy into barber shops," he said.

However, another Coast hairdresser disputed the suggestion barber shops were being used by bikies. "I'd be really surprised,'' the barber said.

Originally published as Bikies 'rampant' as cops turn up the heat