‘Blood Drill Killers’: New gang menace
A NEWLY-formed splinter group from Melbourne's notorious Apex and Menace To Society youth gangs is understood to be behind a string of robberies and violent street brawls across the city's west.
Victoria Police says its officers are cracking down on the gang - known as the "Blood Drill Killers" or "BDK" for short - and they have arrested a number of young teenagers affiliated with it.
Police said the group is mostly made up of African-Australian boys aged 14 to 17 and had been linked to a number of violent crimes in Melbourne's west.
The youth gang is understood to be involved in a shocking Christmas Eve mass street brawl outside a restaurant on Alfrieda Street in St Albans.
Mobile phone footage of the fight, which reportedly began over cigarettes, shows two groups using chairs as weapons.
The dramatic scenes came after months of reported tensions between youth groups, who are understood to target mostly Vietnamese-Australians businesses for cigarettes and mobile phones.
The attack left one man in hospital with an injury to his forehead and police arrested at least one 17-year-old boy, who is believed to be linked to BDK.
Just one day before the mass brawl, a group of 20 youths armed with baseball bats threw tables and chairs at people outside B & D Kitchen next door.
Seven teenage boys were charged on Sunday over another Alfrieda Street brawl and a robbery in St Albans on December 19.
Local An Do said his friends were injured during Monday's scenes of madness.
"This is the third time I've see it here. If you don't give them your cigarettes they just take them off the table," Mr Do told The Age.
"We don't want no trouble here. One year ago there was no problem. We just stop here for coffee."
An elderly Vietnamese man who runs a phone repair business in the street declined to be named for fear of retribution told The Australian: "They steal phone covers all the time, nearly every day. I say 'You have to pay,' and they just take it and go. They attack people on street, steal phones, money."
Angry Vietnamese-Australian residents are taking to social media to vent their fury at the situation.
"Word is getting around in my community and we are furious, time to find the machete," wrote one frustrated resident.
Police said BDK had been linked to a number of robbery and affray offences in the western suburbs - with some committed in conjunction with Menace to Society.
"Police have been monitoring the group for several months now and Wayward Taskforce are confident they know the identity of the majority if not all of BDK members," Victoria Police said in a statement.
"Police have arrested a number of teenagers linked to BDK in the past few weeks."
However, police would not confirm how many gang members had been arrested.
The information comes as far-right groups were accused of deliberately inflaming racial tensions over the weekend.
Far-right activist Neil Erikson was filming men playing soccer on the St Kilda foreshore around 5:30pm on Friday and tense scenes followed after he refused to stop recording after multiple police requests.
"Can you stop that?" one of the group of around a dozen people being filmed asks Mr Erikson three times, before another member of the group attempts to push the camera away.
"I'm allowed to film, mate, don't touch me … it's a public area mate, you can film where you want," one of the far-right activists can be heard replying.
"What are you recording us for?" one of the young men asks before a scuffle breaks out.
The footage shows capsicum spray being used and a man vomiting as he is held on the ground and arrested.
Police said a 25-year-old man was interviewed and released, and is expected to be charged on summons with assaulting police, resisting arrest and failing to move on when directed.
Far right activists have called for a rally to "Reclaim St Kilda Beach" on Australia Day following a spate of violent incidents involving African youths at the popular tourist destination.
The reported rise of BDK comes as violent groups such as Apex and Menace to Society (MTS) - named in reference to the 1990s US teen drama - are understood to be waning.
MTS gained notoriety last year when the group's initials were sprayed alongside Apex tags on a number of homes and public spaces that were trashed.
However, the youth group was labelled as merely an "alcohol-affected mob" by police chiefs, rather than an organised crime outfit.
"These people probably are a menace to society in the way that they have conducted themselves," Victoria Police's then acting Chief Commissioner Shane Patton.
"It's a cowardly act, throwing rocks and metal at our members. But, we have no intelligence to say such a gang exists.
"It's young people trying to claim some esteem and we shouldn't be acknowledging that. They've performed criminal acts and we're hunting them down."