Two men charged with murder after dawn bikie raids

 

TWO men have been charged with the murder of Paul Virgona, shot dead while driving on the EastLink freeway last year.

Arrests were made today over the brutal execution.

A 35-year-old Kilsyth man was arrested in Kilsyth and was interviewed by the Homicide Squad in relation to the shooting.

A 29-year-old Port Melbourne man was arrested in Port Melbourne and was also interviewed.

Assistant Commissioner of Victoria Police's Crime Command, Tess Walsh, confirmed that the two men charged have Mongols links.

The feared Mongols bikie gang was a major element of the sweeping operation this morning after its Port Melbourne clubhouse and the South Melbourne tattoo parlour of outfit strongman Toby Mitchell were raided.

Homicide squad detectives have detained three men in connection with the November 9 shooting.

They were arrested as detectives executed 12 warrants after 5am this morning.

Mr Virgona, 46, was shot from a stolen Mercedes-Benz on EastLink at ­Donvale, soon after he left home to go to work at 2.20am.

 

Police at the Lalor Street property in Port Melbourne this morning. Picture: Andrew Henshaw
Police at the Lalor Street property in Port Melbourne this morning. Picture: Andrew Henshaw

 

The killers waited for him to leave his home in Croydon and followed him.

It is believed the gunman fired from the passenger side as his accomplice drove beside Mr Virgona's white VW van near the Mullum Mullum tunnel.

The hit team then drove the Mercedes to Jaxlee Court in Mooroolbark where it was set alight.

They then took off in a waiting Volkswagen Amarok.

Police earlier this month released images of a distinctive Nike top in the hope someone would recognise it.

It was believed to have been dropped by one of the suspects as they ran through Marie Wallace Bayswater Park after they abandoned the Amarok near Mountain Highway.

His son Luca spoke of the impact on the family after detectives gave details of the Nike top.

"The death of my father has left us all distraught and will forever do so," Luca said.

"No amount of effort, pleading or good will will bring him back and the shock of his absence will never cease."

Police executed a raid at City of Ink tattoo parlour this morning. Picture: Andrew Henshaw
Police executed a raid at City of Ink tattoo parlour this morning. Picture: Andrew Henshaw

Detective Inspector Andrew Stamper told the same press conference that a number of "persons of interest" had emerged.

He said they belonged to organised crime and criminal underworld groups.

But investigators still have no motive for the brutal killing.

Today's raids were carried out in Montrose, Kilsyth, Lilydale, Tecoma, Wantirna South, Southbank, Noble Park, Croydon, and included raids on Mongols clubhouses in Ferntree Gully and Port Melbourne, as well as at commercial properties in South Melbourne and Port Melbourne.

A 30-year-old Montrose man was arrested in Kilsyth and will be interviewed by detectives from the Echo Taskforce in relation to drug offences.

Ms Walsh said that police seized six firearms, including handguns and long-arm firearms, as well as a boat and "powders believed to be drugs".

"Victoria Police is not intimidated by OMCGs or any other crime group and we don't want our community to be either," she said.

City of Ink tattoo parlour reopened as usual at 10am and there were no markings left behind to indicate there had been a police raid hours earlier.

Multiple police cars and unmarked cars are still at the front of the three-storey building.

A large mural of Batman character the Joker is painted on the garage door.

Police tape is covering the front of the property.

A witness said they saw a man outside the Mongols clubhouse in his underwear about 5.30am.

The man was detained by police in the middle of the road before being put in the back of a car and driven away.

 

 

The Lost Dogs Home van was brought in to collect two dogs from the clubhouse - a Staffordshire Bull Terrier and a Pitbull.

Both pets appeared to be co-operating with dog handlers.

Neighbours on Lalor St have remained tight-lipped, saying they knew it was a bikies clubhouse but did not know of the activities inside.

A nearby business owner said there had previously been loud motorbikes roaring down the street but he had not heard much commotion for the past year or so.

Bags of evidence in paper bags were brought out by detectives and bundled into a four-wheel-drive.

 

Victoria Police at “City of Ink” tattoo parlour in South Melbourne. Former Richmond player and part owner, Jake King is sitting inside. Picture: Twitter Seb Costello, Triple M
Victoria Police at “City of Ink” tattoo parlour in South Melbourne. Former Richmond player and part owner, Jake King is sitting inside. Picture: Twitter Seb Costello, Triple M


Several unmarked police vehicles left the scene at 9.30am.

A Porsche Cayenne four-wheel-drive parked out the front of the clubhouse was being searched.

Roller shutters were being brought in to cover up the area where officers smashed their way into the property.

A Victoria Police spokesperson confirmed that police were at a Port Melbourne property.

"There is no immediate risk to community safety," the spokesperson said.

More to come

The raids are linked to the fatal shooting of fruiterer Paul Virgona.
The raids are linked to the fatal shooting of fruiterer Paul Virgona.
The three-storey property in Port Melbourne was raided. Picture: Andrew Henshaw
The three-storey property in Port Melbourne was raided. Picture: Andrew Henshaw
Virgona was shot dead on EastLink on November 9, 2019. Picture: David Crosling
Virgona was shot dead on EastLink on November 9, 2019. Picture: David Crosling


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