Outlaw Bikers and Patched Street Gangs: The Nexus Between Violence and Shadow Economy

Author: Bradley, C
Published in National Security Journal, 15 May 2020

for group activities. A Chapter would comprise a president who is elected by various processes, a vice-president, a road captain (for outlaw bikers), as well as a chapter secretary and treasurer.12 Following the US, the outlaw bikers and patched street gangs in Aotearoa New Zealand13 also maintained a position of sergeant at arms or enforcer responsible for discipline within the club and answerable to the president only. Such a position within the gang hierarchy exemplifies the para-military nature of patched gangs and recognises the need to address external aggression from other gangs and potentially the police, while also enforcing club rules and discipline with the threat of violence for transgressors of such rules. The spectre of violence holds currency within the gang milieu and expresses power that has potential benefits for controlling markets in the shadow economy, a point we will return to below.

Patched Gangs – Members and ProspectsPatched Gangs Members and Prospects

As of September 2019, there were 6735 known patched gang members and prospects with reportedly 30 to 40 known gangs in Aotearoa New Zealand13 Gang numbers have risen from 5785 in 2018;14 a drastic increase of gang members since 2011 where the government reported gang membership at 3500.15 Such numbers place Aotearoa New Zealand as having one of the largest gang populations per-capita in the OECD, well above Australia (its closest neighbour which has a similar number of gang members). Approximately one third of gang membership in Aotearoa New Zealand sits within the two major patched street gangs, the Mongrel Mob and the Black Power with numbers of the former standing at around 1049 and the latter at 595 as of June 2018.16 Given the increasing gang numbers over the past eight years (Table 1), it is prudent to try and determine why this increase is happening and its impact on the shadow economy.