Bikie-busting police unit Strikeforce Raptor will be bolstered to more than 100 cops, after a drive-by shooting just missed a nurse on the weekend.
Bikie-busting police unit Strikeforce Raptor will be bolstered to more than 100 cops and unleashed on warring crime families in Sydney’s southwest as murders and public shootings escalate.
The final straw came this week when a bullet just missed a nurse on duty at Auburn Hospital during a drive-by shooting at a nearby townhouse.
It prompted Police Minister David Elliott and Police Commissioner Mick Fuller to fast-track plans for a new Super Raptor.
“These groups are urban terrorists and have to be treated like that,” Mr Elliott said. “Raptor has my full support to respond in the way that the community expect.”
The new squad, which was to be announced in July, will now begin on Monday and Strike Force Raptor will be elevated to a stand-alone squad with a new commander — Superintendent Jason Weinstein.
It will immediately be given 10 extra officers, with 20 more joining in July, bringing its total strength to 115.
“Under this new and significantly expanded model, the Raptor Squad will continue to use our full arsenal of capabilities and take every opportunity to bring criminal groups to justice,” Mr Fuller said.
“Since it started in 2009 Raptor has arrested 6290 people, proceeded with 15,800 charges and seized more than 2000 firearms and $15 million in cash.
“Its success is due to its ability to evolve according to the criminal environment.”
Until now, Strikeforce Raptor came under the command of the Criminal Groups Squad but now will have more freedom to operate under its own banner — carrying out investigations and intelligence gathering as well as long-term operations.
Three major gangland conflicts currently being fought on Sydney streets have resulted in at least five murders and three attempted murders.
One of those killed was an innocent man, 29-year-old Moustafa Nameen, executed in a carpark after a boxing match in Sydney’s south because it was wrongly thought he was part of the Hamzy crime family.
There have also been murders linked to the Comanchero-Bandido bikie feud and the warring street gangs, DLASTHR and the Assyrian Kings.
Strikeforce Raptor started in a blaze of publicity after it was formed when the Comanchero and Hells Angels were involved in a deadly brawl at Sydney Airport in 2009.
Its profile and reputation as a tough, no-nonsense squad grew over the next decade and is credited with shutting down hundreds of clubhouses and breaking the back of bikie gangs in Sydney.
But the merging of the gang squad and Middle Eastern crime squad three years ago led to a change in the focus for the squad.
“It became more proactive investigations rather than high profile physical interactions with outlaw motorcycle gangs,” Deputy Police Commissioner Dave Hudson said.
Mr Hudson said since the outlaw bikie gangs are no longer visible, the arrests and work of Raptor has not had as much publicity as in the past.
“But they have still been out doing arrests and disruptive strategies on all crime groups which we will expand upon. The crime groups have changed their business model and so have we,” he said.
Since the conflicts between the different groups broke out in October, Raptor has laid more than 400 charges against 169 people connected to organised crime groups
They have raided 85 premises, issued Firearm Prohibition Orders and recovered a staggering 729 weapons as well as more than $4 million cash and $1 million worth of drugs.
New boss Supt Weinstein is a 26-year veteran of the police.
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