THE symbol of an outlaw gang involved in the bloodiest bikie war in history — which claimed 160 lives, including that of an 11-year-old boy — has been seen in Adelaide.
The Advertiser understands a group of men have been seen wearing the “colours” of Rock Machine, a gang that started in Canada and has chapters overseas.
Rock Machine is infamous for its vicious feud with the Hells Angels which, at its height, involved arson attacks, car bombings and the use of rocket-propelled grenades.
South Australian Police have confirmed sightings of the gang’s distinctive insignia — an eagle’s head with the words “Rock Machine Nomads” — in recent months.
It is understood officers are monitoring their activities around the Christies Beach and Seaford areas.
However, sources within the outlaw gang scene claim the men are “wannabes” and Rock Machine has no real presence in Australia.
“They are just trying to keep a name alive that has no meaning and no respect,” the source said.
“The fact of the matter is Australia is a closed shop and no new clubs are going to start in Australia.
“One or two guys will not make a club in this country — it will never happen, they will fizzle out.”
According to its website, Rock Machine was started by Salvatore Cazzetta in Quebec, Canada, in the mid 1980s after he declined to join the local Hells Angels chapter.
“The club was formed by bikers looking for real Brotherhood, dedication and trust amongst themselves,” its website says.
Members originally wore eagle-head rings for identification “to show they were a different breed”, but later switched to leather jackets.
The gang took on the motto “A La Vie A La Mort”, meaning “In the life and death”.
Rock Machine and the Hells Angels coexisted in relative peace until 1994, when Cazzetta was arrested and the Angels placed pressure on his colleagues to fold into their group.
Members instead allied themselves with Montreal’s crime families and drug dealers, sparking the Quebec Biker War that lasted until late 2002 and claimed 160 lives.
Among the innocent bystanders killed was Daniel Desrochers, 11, who was fatally injured by shrapnel from a jeep bombing.
Daniel’s death led to public outcry and the arrests of more than 100 outlaws.
Rock Machine members in Canada patched over to the Bandidos in 2000, but a group broke from that alliance in 2007 to reform the gang.
They attempted to expand into the United States, Germany, Russia, Thailand and Perth.
“We are an old school club with an old school attitude, we give what we get,” its website says.
“What you have to understand is that there are two Rock Machines — the original, which had the war with the Hells Angels, and the new one,” the source said.
“It’s built around guys who have taken a patch that’s no longer being used by anyone else and have put it on their backs.
“The original Rock Machine doesn’t exist anymore.”
In September 2008, two Sydney men were arrested at Winnipeg Airport, Canada, in possession of Rock Machine biker vests and flags.
Authorities alleged the duo, who were subsequently deported, were attempting to help the reformation of the gang in Canada.
Three years later, a war between Rock Machine members and a group allied with the Hells Angels in Winnipeg culminated in a series of firebombings.
At the same time, Rock Machine paraphernalia resurfaced in Montreal for the first time since the Quebec Biker War.
In 2012, membership of the Perth chapter was believed to have swelled to 20 but, in 2013, police said the group had “patched over” to the Bandidos.
A year later, chapter associate Stefan Pahia Schmidt received a nine-year manslaughter jail term for pushing New Zealand musician Andy Marshall through a second-storey window.
Rock Machine’s website states that “against all rumours and lies, we don’t have a chapter in Perth”, dubbing its members “wannabes” who had “never been in our brotherhood”.
Last year, Rock Machine members were sighted in Vancouver, Canada, threatening to invade the turf of that city’s Hells Angels chapter.
Yesterday, Detective Inspector Wayne Overmeyer, from SA Police’s Serious & Organised Crime Branch Crime Gangs Task Force, said Rock Machine activity was being monitored.
“SA Police is aware of individuals, who have been sighted wearing supporter clothing including ‘colours’ associated with the Rock Machine,” he said.
“Serious and Organised Crime Branch, Crime Gangs Task Force, continue to monitor all known (outlaw) groups and investigate offences and incidents which pose a risk to our community.”