Two men arrested as part of investigation into organised crime dispute

Two men have been arrested this morning by police from the VIPER Taskforce as part of the investigation into an altercation in Ravenhall earlier this month believed to be an ongoing dispute between two men with organised crime links.

A 31-year-old Balwyn North man was arrested in Balwyn North while a 32-year-old Caroline Springs man was arrested in Caroline Springs.

Both men will now be interviewed by police.

Today’s arrests follow an incident in Ravenhall about 11am on Friday, 7 July where two men were involved in a physical altercation on the Deer Park Bypass.

Police have been told the men were in two vehicles travelling inbound on the Western freeway when one of the vehicles forced the second off the road at high speed.

A physical altercation then occurring between the two men, with the 32-year-old man threatening the second man with a hammer.

It’s not known how many people in total were in the cars at the time of the incident.

All parties then left the scene before police arrived.

The incident is believed to be linked to an ongoing series of arson attacks across Melbourne which are believed to be linked to disputing organised crime syndicates.

The series of 12 incidents dating back to 24 June are being investigated by detectives from the Arson and Explosive Squad, Echo Taskforce and VIPER Taskforce.

It includes property and car fires in Fawkner, Greenvale, Oakleigh, Fraser Rise, Caroline Springs, Maribyrnong, Collingwood, Port Melbourne and Dandenong.

On the majority of occasions, no one was present at the property when it was set on fire however almost all of the fires caused significant damage.

Luckily, no one was physically injured during the fires.

Last week police released CCTV footage of two men seen smashing the front window of a Smith Street, Collingwood business and then setting it alight.

Investigators are still keen to identify those two men and appeal for anyone with information about their identity or who witnessed the incident to come forward.

Investigators also released footage of two men seen arguing outside the torched business a week before the fire occurred.

Those two men have since been identified, however no one has been charged at this time.

Detectives are still working to determine the motive for the overall ongoing dispute and are speaking further to the residents and business owners of those addresses, as well as any associates, in order to try and understand the reason for the attacks.

Police are looking at whether any other incidents are linked to this series, however at this time they do not believe a number of recent fires at tobacco stores are connected.

Investigators from the Arson and Explosives Squad, Echo Taskforce and VIPER Taskforce will also work closely with local police including the North West Metro Region and Eastern Region Crime Squads, with a number of reassurance patrols underway in areas linked to the fires.

Police are keen to speak to anyone who witnessed any of these incidents or has further information about them and the parties involved.

Anyone with information or CCTV/dash-cam footage is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or submit a confidential crime report at

Quotes attributable to Detective Inspector Mick Daly, VIPER Taskforce:

“This altercation and the incident on the freeway leading up to it had the potential to put other road users at significant and completely unnecessary risk.

“We already know that these groups have very little concern for the safety of the broader community, as seen by the number of tit-for-tat arson incidents that have occurred as part of this dispute.

“As police made clear last week, this is not acceptable behaviour in any way and we have a significant police operation underway to disrupt these attacks and hold those involved to account.

“I’d also appeal for anyone who has information about this dispute or has found themselves involved in it – consider if this is something you want to be embroiled in unnecessarily and I encourage you to come forward and speak to police.”

“Today’s arrests are just the start and I can assure the community that we will be relentless in doing everything we can to bring these incidents to a stop. Those linked to these groups can expect to see us sooner rather than later.”

/Public Release. View in full here.