Expert warns tension between two gangs could become war

Gang expert Jarrod Gilbert says the rising tensions between the growing Killer Beez mob and the long-standing Tribesmen is a huge concern.

His comments come after notorious Killer Beez president Josh Masters was shot at a Harley Davidson store in Auckland on Friday.

After being rushed to Auckland Hospital in a critical condition, police say Masters is now stable.

The Herald understands the shooting was a result of a growing conflict between the two gangs.

Gilbert – a gang researcher and sociologist at the University of Canterbury – said this was a “very serious” incident as Masters has a lot of friends that were loyal to him.

“The threat is that this isn’t the final event but one of a series of events and that’s what we need to be concerned about – that this doesn’t ramp up,” Gilbert said.

He said this had the potential to become some sort of war and police needed to keep a lid on things.

“Police, in these incidences, tend to go for blanket policing. So anyone they think may be involved directly or on the periphery who may be inclined toward escalating events they tend to blanket police them which is entirely appropriate,” Gilbert said.

The Killer Beez were formed in 2003 as a feeder group to the Tribesmen.

At the time, the scene in South Auckland had changed and young people were less interested in joining the Tribesmen and more drawn towards a LA-style street gang, Gilbert said.

“The Tribesmen recognised that and created a vehicle for those rebellious young men and Masters was the ideal head for it,” Gilbert said.

He was a kick-boxer who was “incredibly tough and charismatic” and only 25 years old, Gilbert said.

Masters at the Manukau District Court in 2008. Photo / File
Masters at the Manukau District Court in 2008. Photo / File

Masters has spent 10 years and five months in jail on drugs and money laundering charges. He was released from prison last July.

Gilbert said when the Killer Beez were set up they were like any other LA-street gang but they achieved what no other could – and that was longevity that survived over time.

“They’ve grown into a force of their own right and potentially that creates some tensions,”
Gilbert said.

But, he said the root reason for Friday’s shooting was unknown.

Detective Inspector Tofilau Fa’a Va’aelua, of Counties Manukau police said a 39-year-old man has been arrested and charged with attempted murder in relation to the shooting.

“The man surrendered himself at the Manukau Police Station at around 12.30am,” police said in a statement.

The man, named Akustino Tae, was charged with attempted murder when he appeared at Manukau District Court on Friday. He was remanded in custody.

Tae faces a maximum imprisonment term of 14 years if found guilty.

“Police have located the firearm used in the shooting.”

One of the conditions of Masters’ release was that he was not allowed to associate with gang members, except for those approved by his probation officer, or enter gang-related premises.

Those conditions were due to expire this month.

Masters was back in court in November after being charged with breaching his parole conditions.