Underbelly and vice is alive and well down under in Sydney, Australia.
Media Man and Gambling911 can now report that Kings Cross aka "The Cross" has gone into lockdown mode, as battle for control of business and vice heats up. The new breaks just as Underbelly 3: The Golden Mile, is set to debut tonight on Network Nine Australia.
Australia police including the famed Riot Squad, swarmed 'The Cross' last night in an attempt to head off outlaw bikie gangs preparing to launch a violent challenge to nightclub owner and all round entrepreneur John Ibrahim.
Ibrahim's links to gambling and gaming are loose, preferring more mainstream "vice" such as clubs, bars, alcohol and cigarettes, however let it be noted that clubs in Kings Cross are known as hot spots to secure illegal drugs and a moderate amount of illegal gambling is known to occur in secret. Links to George Freeman, iconic Australian gambling man king pin, and his "family", have also been established, says numerous sources.
Bracing for a bloody turf war, coppers launched the operation over the past two nights and have advised nightclub owners connected to the well known Ibrahim family to "beef up" security.
Just days after Ibrahim left Australia on the eve of Nine Network's launch of the Underbelly, 80 riot police and other forces last night patrolled the Cross on foot, patrol car and "paddy wagon" after receiving intelligence on gangs Bandidos, Comancheros and Notorious.
Police warned the owners of at least six Kings Cross based nightclubs - Trademark, Piano Room, Sapphire, Bada Bing, The Lincoln and The Bank - to prepare for trouble. To help nightclub bouncers identify trouble makers, police have issued owners with leaflets detailing bikie symbols and colours.
A police source notified News Limited: "We have word that the Comancheros and Bandidos have jumped into bed together to take out Notorious this weekend. We believe Notorious is linked with the Ibrahims and they are moving to strike while John (Ibrahim) is out of town."
Police predict that tonight's debut of 'Underbelly' - which is said to glorify the rise of Ibrahim from the suburbs to Cross dominance - could be an X factor in the power play: "There's no doubt that (Underbelly) will have some repercussions."
Riot police stormed one nightspot to avert a showdown recently after Comancheros confronted security at one club linked to the Ibrahims family.
Assistant Commissioner Frank Mennilli advised the extra riot police were needed to ensure the safety of patrons at Kings Cross. "We want to ensure that everyone has a right to a night out, without having to tolerate antisocial behaviour of any kind."
One Ibrahim insider said "You can feel the tension."
Senior police revealed they have been closely guarding seven associated nightclubs in the Cross: Trademark, Dreamgirls, Eye Bar, Ladylux, the Bank Hotel and Dragonfly, soon to reopen as The Tunnel.
Security staff manning club doors said police had told them "not be a hero" and if they see bikies coming, to "shut the doors because you never know who is chasing them".
A bouncer at one club said the bikie situation was getting worse: "It's all about power and fighting for their territory. It's just stupid."
A local identity, who refused to be named, said his club was approached by police, warning him there could be violence this weekend.
"The police said, 'We are letting you know that John (Ibrahim) is out of town and that if there is anything to do with any gangs or anything like that, call up straight away'," he said.
"Unmarked police cars are sitting outside all the clubs and driving through the Cross ready to act."
Police sources said investigations by 'Operation Eaglehawk', which has been monitoring Kings Cross venues, found tensions between the bikie gangs has been festering.
Bikie gangs have previously got into public brawls at venues such as Star City Casino, Burswood Entertainment Complex, and Crown City Casino, based in Melbourne.
Ibrahim's lawyer, Stephen Alexander, warned media representatives last week that he was the only person authorised to speak for the family, after a "friend" reportedly claimed that the nightclub owner was preparing to battle for his turf.
"He (John) is just not going anywhere; they'll carry him out in a box," the source said.
Media Man and Gambling911 advise readers based in Sydney that tonight may be a good night to stay home and enjoy your "vice" online, rather than brave the mean streets of 'The Cross' for a punt.
* Underbelly: The Golden Mile debuts tonight at 8.30 on Network Nine Australia
* Greg Tingle is a special contributor for Gambling911
* Media Man http://www.mediamanint.com is primarily a media, publicity and internet portal development company
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