Rebels admit organised crime, drug charges

Four members of the Rebels motorcycle club have admitted being members of an organised criminal group that was dealing methamphetamine and cannabis in Christchurch.

Raids on the gang’s headquarters in Vagues Road, Papanui, in 2016, found firearms, 38g of methamphetamine, 300g of cannabis, and $35,000, Crown prosecutor Claire Boshier told the Christchurch District Court as the group leaded guilty today.

She said: “The Rebels motorcycle gang had as one of their objectives to deal in drugs, notably methamphetamine and cannabis, for profit.”

Judge Tom Gilbert set sentencing for June 27. He ordered pre-sentence reports and home detention assessments for three who are on bail: Baden Kenneth Clunie, 25, Apirana Ropata Ngata, 23, and another man who has interim name suppression, aged 45.

A fourth man, Mark Allan Powhiro, 32, is already being held in custody, and no home detention report was called for.

All have admitted participating in an organised criminal group. Clunie also admits offering to supply methamphetamine and cannabis. The man with name suppression also admits offering to supply methamphetamine.

Miss Boshier said the Rebels were formed in Brisbane in 1969 and became Australia’s largest motorcycle gang. Since 2011 they have rapidly expanded throughout the world and in January 2011 they established a presence in New Zealand.

From August 2014 to June 2016 the Rebels Motorcycle Club South City headquarters was in a warehouse in Vagues Road. It contained a headquarters room, accommodation, and a bar.

The bar area, main room, and accommodation had Rebels paraphernalia such as flags, logos, drawings and insignia on display. There were patched Rebels jackets and vests, Harley Davidson motorcycles and five surveillance cameras with television monitor screens set up in two areas.

She said that between March and April 2016, the four men were either patched members of the Rebels Motorcycles South City gang or prospects.

They were seen wearing Rebels regalia and associating with known members, in Christchurch and other parts of the country.

She said Clunie was the “money man” who held the club books and chased members for money owed for club fees.

Firearms were found at the pad when the police searched the premises. Miss Boshier said: “Gangs such as the Rebels acquire firearms for the purpose of intimidation and protection of the gang. They are readily used by drug dealers for their protection and standover tactics in the sale and supply of methamphetamine and cannabis.”

The Crown detailed the firearms – a sawn-off shotgun and ammunition, a cutdown .308 firearm, and air rifles – found at the premises.

They also detailed the drugs found, and a balaclava, and text messages which they say include “drug talk and drug dealing”, although they are sometimes unable to say what type of drug is being supplied.

A fifth person arrested has pleaded not guilty and the case is headed for trial.

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