Gangland war fear as police stuck on border duty
POLICE fear gangland wars will erupt on the Gold Coast as their resources are stretched by pandemic duties.
Specialist officers tell the Bulletin a closer eye would have been kept on notorious bikie Shane Bowden - fatally shot in his driveway on Monday morning - if they had not been roped into COVID border and hotel quarantine patrols.
Gold Coast police chief superintendent Mark Wheeler has previously said police pandemic duty was the "priority" to avoid a Victoria-type breakout, but on Monday said there were "still significant operations continuing with respect to organised crime".
A police source said of the slaying: "If the RAP (Rapid Action and Patrols Group) was functioning properly, he would have been on home visits.
"We would have been sitting off the place, nothing shorter. The moment you take the foot off the throat, this will happen. This is a shooting in a high-density living area. It's high risk to the community."
Specialist police, including bikie-busting taskforce Maxima cops and homicide detectives, as well as scientific officers and the DNA unit, had been deployed to man COVID hotels and border checkpoints.
Some senior police sources fear the slaying of Bowden, a Finks bikie, could spark the return of gangland warfare and that Mongols and Finks OMCGs had been preparing for a showdown for months.
"Expect more bodies on the street," one police source said.
Bowden's death comes almost one year after the alleged bikie-linked shooting of former Commanchero Shane Ross by Lone Wolf bikies.
Specialist officers say COVID deployments are taking them away from essential work and putting them "months behind" on protracted investigations.
One source said bikie-busting cops had been so stretched due to COVID deployments they did not have enough staff to get illegal guns off the street.
Bikie sources say southeast Queensland clubs are recruiting in huge numbers and have been stockpiling weapons.
In mid-2018 it was revealed bikies were back in business, after discovering that of the 67 gang members charged, 57 were back on the street on bail.
In August this year, four people were charged following a raid on a home in Pimpama.
Detectives from Taskforce Maxima and the dog squad executed a search warrant at a property on Fountain St. Police allege they uncovered a stash of firearms, cash and drugs belonging to the Finks.
Ammunition, knives, a taser, shot guns, rifles and a hand gun were also seized, with $23,000 cash, police claim.
It is understood police knew tensions between gangs were increasing recently.
Bowden was believed to have been working to strengthen the Gold Coast chapter of the Finks.
Police sources say the Finks have been flexing their Glitter Strip muscle in recent months, with members recently wearing Finks MC paraphernalia at shopping centres.
But Chief Supt Wheeler said to suggest a link between police undertaking COVID duty and the murder was untrue. He confirmed police from around the state had been deployed to COVID duties.
"To draw the conclusion that it was because police officers are performing a specific role is not correct," he said.
"There are still significant operations continuing with respect to organised crime. The Gold Coast has over 1000 police, including specialist units."
Chief Supt Wheeler said the public had nothing to fear from Bowden's murder and the case would be investigated fully. He backed the QPS response to COVID, saying in Victoria there had been tragic consequences.
"We are in a pandemic. With this comes significant challenges for police and we need to balance business as usual with the critical need to ensure our hotel quarantine and border control is done appropriately."
Originally published as Gangland war fear as police stuck on border duty