Two men have been charged with the murder of fruit and vegetable trader Paul Virgona following dawn raids across Melbourne this morning.
Officers executed 12 warrants at commercial and residential properties including clubhouses of the Mongols outlaw motor cycle gang about 5am today, as well as at two storage facilities.
Mongols clubhouses in Ferntree Gully and Port Melbourne were raided, as well as a South Melbourne tattoo parlour co-owned by former Richmond Football Club player Jake King, who was seen speaking to police.
Victoria Police Crime Command Assistant Commissioner Tess Walsh confirmed a 35-year-old Kilsyth man and a 29-year-old Port Melbourne man would face court later today charged over the shooting death last year.
A 30-year-old Montrose man was also likely to be charged over drug and fire arm offences, Asst Comm. Walsh said.
“I can confirm two people have been charged with the murder of Paul Virgona,” she said.
“We believe they were the people responsible for the murder.
“They are linked to the Mongols.
“Echo Taskforce are interviewing the third person on a range of drug and fire arms matters.”
Mr Virgona, 46, was found dead in his bullet-riddled van on the Eastlink Freeway at Donvale in the early hours of November 9 last year.
Police said searches of the properties will be ongoing throughout the day but they have already seized a number of guns and drugs.
“We have located six firearms, some powders believed to be drugs, and a boat,” Asst Comm. Walsh said.
“Those items will become subjects of forensic analysis.”
At a press conference earlier this month, investigators were able to establish a link to the Mongols over Mr Virgona’s death but were unable to establish a motive for the brutal killing.
Since then detectives have focused on a Mercedes which followed the victim from his property and was then set alight at Mooroolbark in east Melbourne. Their investigation also concentrated on two men leaving a Volkswagen ute near Bayswater parkland.
Police released images of a distinctive Nike top, believed to have been dropped by one of the suspects.
Asst Comm. Walsh today could not confirm if the fatal shooting of Mr Virgona was a case of mistaken identity or not, but she reaffirmed Mr Virgona had no criminal ties.
“Mr Virgona has no criminal associates and there’s nothing in his background that would suggest that anything he or his family have done, have been a part of the reason why he’s been the victim of this heinous crime,” she said.
“Those involved in ongoing criminal activity whether OMCG or another organised crime group, whether you’re involved in drug trafficking, intimidation, violence, you will become the focus of Victoria Police investigations.”
*Ferntree Gully (clubhouse)
*Port Melbourne (clubhouse)
*Port Melbourne (commercial)
*South Melbourne (commercial)