Last Friday, Victoria Police located a clandestine drug laboratory at a residence in Avondale Heights in suburban Melbourne. The laboratory was not in operation but a number of items and equipment were located which were consistent with the manufacture of methamphetamines (aka ice).

The Melbourne gangland wars were all about controlling the production, distribution and sale of a “party drug” that sells like hotcakes to affluent young professionals and dole-bludgers alike at the city’s hottest nightspots, backstreets and rave parties.

Australia wide, the business is worth maybe $2 billion a year. The war will go on until demand for “the product” stops. It is a neverending war that has just entered a new phase. New organised crime gangs, probably Asian-Australian in heritage, will pop up to replace the Mokbel-Williams Sunshine Scum gang – if indeed the gang really has parted the scene of its crimes.

“The product” is popular with punters because speed, ice and ecstasy stimulate and affect the brain. This somehow translates as something “cool” to take with your friends when you are in party mode. They don’t tell you they may cause collapse, cerebral haemorrhage (bleeding in the brain), stroke, seizure and heart failure. Ecstasy can cause confusion, depression, anxiety, sleeplessness, drug-craving, paranoia and death.

The message is: don’t take it! It’s bad for you and good for murdering, thieving ne’er-do-wells who don’t need your hard earned because they have already got squillions and are lying on a beach somewhere on the Costa Brava (aren’t you Fat Tony, you scumbag).

We sometimes dream/wish that Fat Tony were dead. That the Carlton Crew had got him before he scarped the country – given him a quick garroting in the back of a car and fed him to the fish in Bass Strait. Then we wake up and realise that he sent for his girlfriend and they are frolicking on the Costa Brava or “wheresoever” as the lawyers say.

The Kookas finished Monday’s gangland sermon with the stark question about Mario Condello’s sad demise on 6 February last year. It was suppose to have been the last slaying of the Melbourne gangland wars. But who did it? The coppers have Babyface Williams down for masterminding ten murders and, unless we are double-counting, his last bloodletting was Graham “The Munster” Kinniburgh on December 13, 2003.

After that, it went tit for tat between the two gangs as the Ice Wars reached a bloody crescendo. Scum member and notorious hitman Andrew “Benji” Veniamin died from “misadventure” on March 23, 2004 and Big Mick Gatto escaped a murder rap on the grounds of self-defence.

Benji was Babyface’s right-hand gunman so retaliation came swiftly to Crew grandee Lewis “Puttyface” Moran who died in a hail of bullets while having a beer at the bar on March 30, 2004. Scum’s Lewis Caine paid for that with his life on May 8, 2004.

On May 16, 2004 drug-dealing police informer Terry Hodson and his wife Christine were bound, gagged and executed. It didn’t have the MO of a gangland killing (which is very much in-your-face eye contact). This had to be the work of rogue coppers. Whatever, it broke the payback rhythm and John “Sly” Silvester from The Age opined that maybe the war was over?

Nearly two years later, on 6 February, 2006, Crew bagman Mario Condello bit the bullet stepping out of his car in the garage of his Brighton home.

The Kookas reckon this is a neverending story. God willing, we will continue it at another time.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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