Police probe Comanchero bikie link in firebombing attacks

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Police are investigating whether a spate of arson attacks that included the destruction of a Collingwood supermarket is connected to an ongoing feud between crime groups and outlaw motorcycle gangs for control of the lucrative drug trade.

Investigators have expanded the probe to include outlaw motorcycle gangs after one property damaged in the attacks was linked to a former patched member of the Comancheros.

An aggressive push by the Comancheros to control drug prices and compel other gangs to put a floor price on cocaine while the market is awash with the popular drug has sent the underworld into turmoil, according to multiple police and underworld sources.

Players involved in the lucrative trade were divided in their reasons for explaining the sudden surge in violence, with one underworld source telling The Age that drug disputes and turf wars between rival groups were most likely to blame.

On Friday, police identified two men involved in a heated argument outside Sonsa Market on June 22, a week before the popular Collingwood store went up in flames. But police have made no arrests in connection to the alleged gang warfare.

Police are investigating whether personal motives could be behind the feud, which has been linked to almost a dozen firebombings. The attacks have damaged three businesses, several cars and two suburban homes.

One property was torched three times and sustained extensive damage.

Arson squad detectives and Viper taskforce officers raided Sonsa Market on Thursday looking for clues about the potential cause of the June 29 fire.

Two days after the argument outside Sonsa Market, two cars in the driveway of a Fawkner home, which is linked to a director of the popular grocery store and cafe, were firebombed in the early hours of the morning.

The following day, a person attempted to set alight two cars parked in the driveway of a Greenvale home.

A day later, on June 26, a man broke into a luxury car dealership in Oakleigh, entering through a window, and set the business on fire, which caused more than $1 million in damage.

The morning after the Oakleigh fire, there was an attempt to set fire to a house with five people inside in Fraser Rise, a suburb about 25 kilometres north-west of Melbourne’s CBD.

CCTV cameras captured the moment the fire ignited and filled Sonsa Market with smoke and flames.

After an associate rushed to help, his Caroline Springs property was also torched. The Caroline Springs property was targeted twice more in fires last Sunday and Monday.

The Age has confirmed one of the homes damaged in the attacks is linked to a former Comanchero. Police believe the man hasn’t been a patched member for a number of years but remains connected to the outlaw motorcycle club.

A large piece of plywood covered the one-car garage of the Fraser Rise home on Friday. Ashes littered the driveway, burn marks covered the door and there was a hole in the front entrance roof.

A burnt-out hole could also be seen in the wall on the top floor of the Caroline Springs property. Temporary fencing, with police tape nearby, surrounded the modern home, which appeared to have fire damage to the front door and two broken windows on the second floor.

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