ONE of Australia's most feared gangland enforcers was shot and killed in broad daylight on Saturday while sitting outside a Melbourne café.
Gavin "Capable" Preston, 50, was hit with 10 bullets in a shocking and public attack which has brought gang crime to the surface.
Police are now on the hunt for two men who are suspected to have gunned down the notorious criminal. No arrests have been made.
Victoria Police Acting Superintendent Mark Hatt said: "We believe it's linked to organised crime and that will form part of our investigation going forward.
"I can reassure the public that we believe that this was a targeted attack."
Preston was released from prison earlier this year after serving more than a decade for the 2012 killing of drug dealer Adam Khoury.
His death has shone a light on Australia's "underbelly" crime world and those who are a part of it.
Mediator and debt collector Domenic "Mick" Gatto, 68, is a high-profile member, having once been part of Melbourne's inner-city Carlton Crew along with Alphonse Gangitano, Mario Condello and Graham Kinniburgh who were killed in the city's gangland war that ran from 1998 to 2010.
In fact, he is so well-known that an Australian tourist recently and immediately recognised him as the heavily-tattooed man relaxing by the pool in Bali.
Gatto earned national fame in 2008 when he was played by Simon Westaway in popular crime drama Underbelly.
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He shot dead hitman Andrew "Benji" Veniamin in the Carlton restaurant La Porchella in March 2004 but claimed self defence and was acquitted of murder.
Gavin Preston was once suspected of plotting to kill him.
Preston was nabbed by police, along with his close associate Nabil Maghnie, 44, outside Melbourne Town Hall in 2011.
It was believed the pair were heading to shoot Gatto at a restaurant, though Preston publicly denied the allegation.
Maghnie himself has a reputation for being one of the country's most dangerous men and is suspected of non-fatal shootings, drive-by attacks, and drug trafficking.
He and Preston are rumoured to have been behind the 2011 ambush of Bandido bikie Toby Mitchell at Brunswick.
Maghnie survived being shot twice – once by rival gangster George Marrogi – but was killed the third time in 2020.
Preston's death comes after Korey Kesici, 22, was last year killed in a similar execution-style shooting in Melbourne.
The young man was gunned down outside his home.
He was shot multiple times after he went to speak with men sitting in a stolen white BMW and died on the street in front of his parents and sisters.
The Herald Sun reported at the time that convicted killer George Marrogi, 34, was being investigated in relation to Kesici's murder, despite the fact he was locked inside Victoria's maximum security Barwon Prison.
It was alleged Marrogi had been running his gang Notorious Crime Family from behind bars.
An hour after Kesici's murder, a cryptic message appeared on Marrogi's Instagram: "Take delight in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart."
Marrogi is serving time for the 2016 murder of fellow crime figure Kadir Ors and is suspected of being involved in other shootings.
He was a prime suspect when Nabil Maghnie was shot and wounded in 2016.
Matthew Johnson, 50, is another feared member of Australia's underworld, especially after he murdered drug boss Carl Williams in 2010 at Barwon Prison.
It has been suggested the killing was related to the severe potential implications that may have arisen if Williams had cooperated with police.
Johnson also shared telling insights to social media, including the poem: "Problems are solved with mayhem and violence.
"Surrounded by concrete and a code of silence.
"People live and people die.
"We operate on an eye for an eye."
In a conversation with the ABC aired this week, veteran police reporter at the Herald Sun Mark Butler said Preston's death did not necessarily indicate imminent war.
He said: "There's been a number of incidents in the last year or so…
"I don't see any indication of any – any firm indication – of any gangland war erupting here.
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"There's always these predictions after people are shot. After Nabil Maghnie was shot [there were predictions] there would be follow-up bloodshed and there wasn't so it's not a guaranteed thing."
But Mr Butler said some people would be "contemplating backing up" over Preston's death.
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