Vince Focarelli, former Adelaide gang leader, facing deportation from Australia

FORMER gang leader Vince Focarelli, who has survived five assassination attempts, is facing deportation from Australia.

Originally from Italy, the controversial ex-bikie boss turned restaurateur has been served a “notice of intent’’ to cancel his visa because of his shocking criminal past.

Focarelli has just 28 days in which to file a submission to the Immigration Department “justifying’’ why he should be allowed to remain on Australian soil.

His submission will be included in a report to federal Immigration and Border Protection Minister Peter Dutton, who will then make the final decision.

Former gang leader Vince Focarelli gives a time-out gesture outside court during an appearance.

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The Advertiser has learnt Focarelli was formally notified on Tuesday of the dramatic move, under Section 501 of the Migration Act.

It’s likely that if Focarelli is deported it would be to Italy, from where he arrived, aged 12, with his parents.

Focarelli, who was a key figure in more than a decade of gang-related violence in Adelaide, is the 42nd South Australian to be targeted under the strengthened provisions of the Act.

Calling himself Imran Salaam, Focarelli is the second high-profile Adelaide bikie gang figure to be targeted under the measure, with Mongols treasurer Andrew Peter Stevens still fighting his deportation through the courts.

Stevens was forcibly removed from his home and flown to the Christmas Island detention centre last June, along with another lesser-known Adelaide gang figure, ex-Comanchero Paul Burgess.

In 2014, Albanian organised crime figure Leonard Gjeka — who ironically was the gunman in one of the failed assassination attempts on Focarelli — was also deported from Adelaide under Section 501.

Focarelli fashion: A gangster’s style guide

February 2016 - Vince and Giuseppe Focarelli at their most recent appearance in the Adelaide Magistrates Court, where kidnapping and assault charges against them were dropped.
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February 2016 - Vince Focarelli outside the Adelaide Magistrates Court, where the kidnapping and assault case against him was dropped.
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Mr Dutton would not comment on individual cases, but his office confirmed an Adelaide resident had just been served with a notice of intent and “their submission would be taken into account in the decision-making process’’ concerning their visa.

Mr Dutton said the government was determined to do all it could to protect the Australian community.

“Foreign nationals who think they can flout our laws, harm our citizens or commit terrible crimes should get a clear message,” Mr Dutton said.

“Your ability to remain in Australia will be removed, we will cancel your visa and get rid of you from our country.”

Mr Dutton said Australia welcomed millions of visitors on short and long-term visas each year and the overwhelming majority abided by the law and enjoyed holidaying or residing in Australia and being part of the Australian community.

Vince and Giuseppe Focarelli at the Adelaide Magistrates court.

Vince Focarelli with his stepson Giovanni Focarelli, who was killed during an attempt on Vince’s life.

Focarelli is loaded into an ambulance at Prospect after being shot in Dry Creek. Picture: Nine News

“Unfortunately there is a small minority who involve themselves in criminal acts,” Mr Dutton said.

Of the 41 cancellations in South Australia in 2016, nine were for assault, eight for other violent offences, six for serious drug offences and several for armed robbery.

Another five people convicted for sex offences against children were removed and there was a cancellation for involvement in organised crime.

The Federal Government has so far cancelled the visas of more than 1000 foreign nationals since the provisions of Section 501 of the Migration Act were strengthened.

They include 138 members of bikie gangs.

Vince Focarelli in 2009, with his father Giuseppe.

Under Section 501 of the Immigration Act, individuals’ visas can be cancelled on character grounds if the individuals “are or have been a member of a group or organisation or had or have an association with a person, group or organisation that the minister reasonably suspects of being involved in criminal conduct”.

The cancellation of key outlaw motorcycle club gang members’ visas has had a significant disruptive effect on the day-to-day operations — including criminal activity — and command and control of several gangs in Australia.

Focarelli has been a key figure in outlaw gang activity in Adelaide. As head of the now-defunct New Boys street gang, he was targeted by rival Hells Angels members and later, as head of the Comancheros, other crime figures for assassination. He survived five attempts on his life, with the latest in January 2012 claiming the life of his son Giovanni, 22.

In that incident Focarelli and his son were lured to a meeting at Dry Creek, near the Descendants bike gang clubrooms, as part of a planned ­execution.

The suspect, a former Descendants member, fired eight shots into Focarelli’s car, wounding him and killing Giovanni. Focarelli drove the car from the scene and flagged down a police car on Prospect Rd at Prospect.

The shooting scene at Dry Creek in 2012.

A .357 Magnum was found tucked in Giovanni’s trousers, but forensic testing later discovered DNA belonging to Vince was on the trigger. The drug liquid fantasy was also found in the car.

Focarelli was later jailed for 19 months with a 14-month non-parole period after pleading guilty in the District Court to possessing a firearm without a licence and one count of ­possessing a controlled drug.

A $200,000 reward is still available for anyone who provides information leading to a conviction over Giovanni’s murder.

Focarelli last year said he had reformed since embracing Islam and becoming a Muslim.

“I have completely distanced myself in all aspects of that life,” he said.

“I played my part and I received as much in return. I’m a human being and regardless of whatever I’ve done in the past, everyone makes mistakes.”

A senior detective involved in organised crime and gang-related investigations welcomed the move to deport Focarelli, saying that despite his vow that he had reformed, he remained a risk to the community because of his violent past.

Vince Focarelli leaves District Court in a corrections van.

“There are still several ­people in Adelaide’s criminal community who would prefer Vince was dead. He still has enemies and possesses valuable information on the criminal activities of many, many individuals,’’ the detective said.

“For instance, he knows who murdered his son and could provide a statement if he chose that would in all likelihood see them convicted of murder. That person knows this and will always be fearful of this, of Vince turning.’’

A long history of violence

2006: Vince Focarelli is a nominee for the Hells Angels, but falls out with his sponsor, Danny Papadopoulos.

2007: Focarelli starts the New Boys street gang, comprised mainly of petty criminals of Middle Eastern background. Involved in low-level drug dealing, the gang is based in Focarelli’s Hindley St tattoo studio. Over the next five years there are numerous violent and bloody clashes with rival Hells Angels members, until many of the New Boys turn to the Comancheros. The Comancheros finally turn on Focarelli, stripping him of their colours.

2010: Focarelli survives an attempted assassination attempt when a bomb being delivered by two Hells Angels associates to his Enfield house explodes in their car.

2010: Focarelli’s eldest son, Giovanni, is stabbed in the chest and stomach outside his father’s Hindley St tattoo parlour.

2010: Focarelli is confronted inside a Sefton Park supermarket by an armed man who levels a
gun at him but does not have time to fire before he flees through a rear storeroom door. The would-be shooter is a Hells Angels associate.

2011: Focarelli is shot in the leg after being ambushed by four armed men at Munno Para. He is found hiding in the backyard of a house by police after he smashes through its front window to escape his would-be assassins.

2012: Shots are fired at Focarelli by a Comanchero rival in the carpark of the Findon Hotel on Grange Rd.

2012: Focarelli is shot four times and Giovanni is fatally wounded after they are lured to Dry Creek by a former member of the Descendants bikie gang.

2013: Focarelli is released from jail after serving 14 months on drug and firearm charges that relate to the Dry Creek incident which claimed the life of his son.

2013: Focarelli and his youngest son Giuseppe, 20, are charged with aggravated assault and reckless driving offences. Prosecutors allege they bashed a man following a high-speed chase through the CBD. The alleged victim refuses to give evidence and prosecutors later withdraw all charges.

2016: Focarelli is awarded more than $15,000 in court costs following the withdrawal of the assault and driving charges.

2016: Focarelli opens a restaurant in Carrington St, city, vowing his life of crime is over following his decision to turn to Islam and become a Muslim.

2017: Focarelli is served with a “notice of intent” to cancel his visa and given 28 days to justify why he shouldn’t be deported.

Undesirables on the banishing list

Andrew Stevens

The treasurer of the Adelaide chapter of the Mongols bikie gang was forcibly placed on a chartered jet and flown to the Christmas Island detention centre last June. He immediately launched Federal Court proceedings to overturn the order. His matter is due to be heard in the High Court in April.

Paul Burgess

The former Adelaide Comanchero bikie was also deported in June last year. He remains on Christmas Island while he attempts to have his deportation overturned in the Federal Court.

Leonard Gjeka

The dangerous underworld figure was involved in many shooting incidents in Adelaide in the decade before his deportation in 2014. He unsuccessfully appealed against his order in the Federal Court and at one stage escaped from Villawood detention centre while awaiting a decision.

Alex Vella

The national president of the Rebels bikie gang was denied entry to Australia after a holiday to his native Malta in 2014. He has been the most high-profile bikie banished from Australia using Section 501. Despite repeated appeals, he failed to overturn the order.

Shane Martin

Shane Martin, the bikie father of AFL star Dustin Martin, was deported to his native New Zealand last year. His case has attracted considerable attention in the eastern states because of his Richmond footballer son. In January he lost his appeal to overturn the deportation order.

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News Article written by: 
Nigel Hunt
Source of News article: 
adelaidenow.com.au




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