10 June 2021

Senior Canberra Nomads member arrested over drug and firearm charges in Operation Ironside

| Albert McKnight
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Mobile phone

A mobile phone seized by police during the search of a home in Kingston has been forensically examined. Photo: NSW Police.

A man believed to be a senior member of an outlaw motorcycle gang (OMCG) from Canberra, and possibly its former national president, has been arrested after the major police investigation, Operation Ironside.

ACT Policing searched a home in Kingston at about 1:15 pm on Monday (7 June) as part of the international operation.

Police seized a mobile phone, which was forensically examined and found to contain an encrypted messaging platform.

Michael Wayne Clark, 35, was later arrested at the Queanbeyan Police Station on Wednesday (9 June).

Police allege the Kingston man was involved in the supply of prohibited drugs and firearms between NSW and ACT in May this year.

Robert Critchlow

Robert Critchlow said Michael Clark was at one time, possibly, the national president of the Nomads. Photo: Screenshot.

At a press conference in Sydney today, Criminal Groups Squad Commander Detective Superintendent Robert Critchlow alleged Mr Clark was at one time possibly the national president of the Nomads, but may have recently lost the position.

“The community of Canberra have suffered from, we will allege, this gentleman and his colleagues for an extended period of time,” Detective Superintendent Critchlow said.

Mr Clark appeared before the Queanbeyan Local Court today where he made no application for bail, but Magistrate Roger Clisdell formally refused it.

Magistrate Clisdell adjourned the case to Liverpool Local Court on 9 August.

On Tuesday (8 June), NSW Police announced 35 people had been arrested as part of the operation.

Police seized more than $800,000 cash and luxury vehicles worth $1.5 million, including a Ferrari, Lamborghini, McLaren and Bentley.

They also found 27 firearms, including two Glock pistols and a 50-calibre sniper rifle, and significant quantities of prohibited drugs, including cocaine, ice, MDMA, cannabis, pseudoephedrine and various prescription drugs.

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Mr Clark did not enter pleas to his charges, which include supplying an indictable quantity of a prohibited drug, conspiring to supply a commercial quantity of a prohibited drug, supplying a prohibited firearm to an unauthorised person and participating in a criminal group.

Operation Ironside was established in 2018 by the Australian Federal Police, together with Federal Bureau of Investigation in the US and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, to investigate serious organised crime and outlaw motorcycle gangs allegedly responsible for large-scale drug importations, drug manufacture and violent criminal activity.

While Operation Ironside focuses on OMCGs, there are no anti-consorting laws in the ACT and in August 2019 the ACT Government said there was no evidence to prove such laws worked in Australia.

Anti-consorting laws make it an offence to associate or speak with habitual criminals, or other people deemed to be dangerous, whether in public, private or online.

The issue of whether there was a need for such laws was raised again after Canberra Comanchero’s commander Pitasoni ‘Soni’ Ulavalu was stabbed to death in a brawl at Kokomo’s in Civic on 19 July 2020.

The Liberals said anti-gang laws have been backed by multiple frontline experts on crime prevention and by the High Court.

“The fact is that since the ACT Government failed to introduce anti-consorting laws more than a decade ago, we have seen a four-fold increase in bikie gangs and, as a result, a bikie war has unfolded across Canberra,” Shadow Attorney-General Jeremy Hanson said.

But a report released in 2020 by Attorney-General Gordon Ramsay had found only one per cent of crime in the ACT was committed by gang members.

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In July 2020, the ACT Law Society reaffirmed its opposition to anti-consorting laws.

“Such laws are a disproportionate response to a perceived threat, and are inconsistent with basic human rights principles,” society president Chris Donohue said.

“This type of law is also open to misuse, and serves to further marginalise vulnerable and disadvantaged members of our community.

“Where anti-consorting laws have been introduced in other jurisdictions, they have proven to be largely ineffective.”

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