A group of Illawarra criminals has been accused of reviving the notoriously violent Brothers 4 Life gang, starting up an Illawarra chapter masterminded from jail.
On Sunday, police revealed they had laid charges against a self-proclaimed member of Brothers 4 Life for numerous offences.
The 27-year-old man Andrew Coe was arrested in Newcastle on Monday and will appear in Wollongong court on May 7.
He has been charged with conspiracy to discharge a firearm with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, conspiracy to fire a gun in or near public place, two counts of taking part in the supply of a prohibited drug, and knowingly participating in a criminal group.
Coe’s arrest was part of a wider investigation into violent acts in the Illawarra, conducted by the NSW Police Criminal Groups Squad since October last year.
Their inquiries revealed the acts were linked to a war between the Finks outlaw motorcycle gang and other groups, including Brothers For Life.
According to reports in the Sunday Telegraph, detectives allegedly uncovered a group of six to eight men moving guns, plotting a shooting, running drugs and committing violent acts.
Unlike the original Brothers 4 Life, who were Lebanese and Afghan men from southwestern Sydney, the Illawarra men are mainly Aboriginal or Anglo-Saxon housing commission residents.
Known in Wollongong courts, the men reportedly converted to Islam while in jail. Andrew Coe has changed his name on Facebook to be Abdullah Abdullah Coe.
The group is also alleged to include Wollongong men Damien Featherstone, 29, Richard Dutton, 29 and Gregory Parker, 25.
Dutton, from Horsley, was previously said to be a high-ranking Brothers 4 Life member after he fired a gun into the air outside Lake Illawarra Police Station before immediately surrendering to officers in early January.
Last month, police said he believed fellow gang members were after him, however this was disputed by family members.
According to the Telegraph, police will allege that Featherstone recruited other inmates to the Illawarra Brothers 4 Life chapter after sharing a cell with convicted murderer and gang boss Bassam Hamzy.
Despite being in jail, Featherstone allegedly called the shots on Hamzy’s behalf, allegedly ordering members to hide guns with relatives, track down ammunition and participate in Friday prayers, the paper said.
Police allege their main objective was seeking revenge against Illawarra Fink’s president Troy Forniciari. The high ranking bikie was recently arrested on gun and drug charges at a North Wollongong industrial unit.
Fornaciari was accused of using his senior position in the OMCG’s South Coast chapter to direct fellow gang members and associates in criminal activity, notably drug deals.
It is alleged Fornaciari was found in possession of 189 grams of the drug ice when police raided the North Wollongong warehouse, which they believe was destined to become the gang’s clubhouse.
Police also uncovered a loaded firearm and a Toyota Hilux they believe had previously been stolen.