Rival bikie gangs are rapidly bolstering their numbers in country New South Wales as fears increase that a violent ‘turf war’ is on the verge of breaking out.
In just the first nine weeks of this year there have been seven drive-by shootings and firebombings involving the gangs across the Hunter Valley, leaving locals scared.
The Newcastle chapters of the Finks and Nomads have seen their numbers rise in the first few months of 2018, as the two groups battle for supremacy in the region.
Police sources have told Daily Mail Australia they fear a bikie war could erupt, leading them to initiate a task force specifically to crack down on the local rival gangs before the violence turns deadly.
While much focus in recent weeks has been on bikie shootings across Sydney, just a few hours north tensions have been escalating over the past 12 months.
Where two years ago members of rival gangs would leave friendly comments to their rivals on Facebook, the goodwill seems to have dried up.
Despite the power of bikie gangs still residing in capital cities along the east coast, a number of troublemakers have emerged from the Newcastle area in recent times.
Heavily-tattooed Finks member Jesse Johnston found the headlines last year after he was kicked out of Australia by border force officials.
Johnston, 22, was sent back to New Zealand last October leaving his chapter in need of a new Sergeant at Arms.
Just months after his deportation the chapter was rocked again, with Finks president Andrew Russell Manners jailed in late February after assaulting Strike Force Raptor officers.
The feud between the two gangs is believed to have begun last year, around the time Nomad enforcer Blake Kevin Martin bashed a rival Finks member with a crow bar.
Just 24 hours after Martin’s incident Nomads again went on the attack, glassing and head-butting two men during a Saturday night out at a bar.
But while tensions momentarily calmed, they have escalated again in recent months with a series of tit-for-tat attacks.
Daily Mail Australia is not alleging all members or associates of the Finks or Nomads are involved in the current spate of violence.
Tensions in the apparent feud escalated to seemingly new levels last week, with two shootings in less than 72 hours.
The first saw the home of jailed Finks president Andrew Russell Manners attacked in a drive-by shooting in the early hours of March 1. His partner and daughter who were home at the time escaped uninjured.
On March 4, a man was hit in the leg during a drive-by shooting on Deschamps Close near Maitland.
Just 24 hours earlier Detective Superintendent Wayne Humphrey issued a warning to the two MCs to stop the violence.
‘This is a targeted attack between two groups who are undertaking this criminality,’ he told media last week.
‘They have a misguided code of silence and we’ve got to try and break that down.
‘I’m always going to be concerned someone innocent might be injured, or worse, and that’s why it’s essential that we… bring this type of behaviour to an end.
‘As a result of this ongoing dispute between these two gangs, Strikeforce Darnay has been commenced to investigate the outlaw gangs in the Greater Hunter area.’