When some people think of bikers they most often think of the stereotypical of dirty, leather clad men with shaggy beards covered in road dust riding around the country wreaking havoc and getting into barroom brawls. The truth is that most bikers are not rowdy trouble-makers and are in fact honest, law-abiding, hard working people.
Like notorious street gangs, biker gangs are nebulous formations whose record-keeping skills are minimal. Their members’ loyalty to the group, however, is unquestioned. All of the following biker gangs refer to themselves as “one percenters” -- a term of dubious origin that nonetheless is meant to separate them from ordinary, “officially sanctioned” motorcycle clubs. To that end, U.S. authorities term them OMGs or OMCs for “outlaw motorcycle gangs/clubs.” It is important to note that although some of the members of these motorcycle clubs/gangs have been arrested, tried and convicted of various crimes not every member of the following clubs engage in criminal acts.
Abutre's Moto Clube criminal activities include drugs (transportation and distribution), extortion, and prostitution. Brazil's largest biker gang is a rather youthful bunch -- having been formed just 20 years ago -- but the gang's influence seems to be spreading, as chapters have popped up not only across Brazil, but also in neighboring Argentina. Other chapters -- of largely homogeneous, Brazilian makeup -- are purported to have formed in Japan, the U.S. and Spain as well. In case your Portuguese is rusty, "abutre" means "vulture" in English, thus they're also known as Vultures MC.
The Rebels MC criminal activities include firearms, drugs (transportation and distribution), counterfeiting, tax evasion, extortion, money laundering, and trafficking stolen goods. Reputed to be Australia's largest biker gang -- with 2,000 members and a full 70 chapters nationwide -- the Rebels have been tied to a variety of execution-style killings in the last decade, including the murder of three members of their Aussie rival, the Bandidos. The only problem with Australian biker gangs is that they're referred to as "Bikie" gangs, a term that, at least in the U.S., seems to seriously undercut street credibility.
Solo Angeles Club De Motocicletas criminal activities include drugs and arms (transportation and distribution), human smuggling, murder, extortion, and prostitution. Formed in the 1960s in the Mexican border town of Tijuana, the Solo Angels have spread into the American Southwest but retain deep ties to Southern Californian street gangs, including one of the most feared gangs in the world: Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13. The Solo Angels enjoy good press once a year during their Tijuana Toy Drive; otherwise, they're one of the Hells Angels' few allies, and have been associated with the Mongols, who have a bloody, ferocious rivalry with the Hells Angels.
The Free Souls motorcycle gang was started in the state of Oregon in the late 1960's. Their patch consists of an ankh, an ancient Egyptian symbol in the shape of a cross, in the center of a motorcycle rim and tire. All of their chapters, with the exception of one in Vancouver, Canada, are located within the state of Oregon. On May 2, 2007, three members of The Free Souls Motorcycle Club were arrested and charged with various crimes. Amongst the evidence were illegal drugs, weapons and stolen motorcycles all of which were seized as part of the investigation and arrests.
The Highwaymen were formed in Detroit, MI in 1954. Their chapters have spread across the state of Michigan as well as other U.S. states and have reached as far as Norway and England. Their club colors are black and silver and their insignia is a winged skeleton wearing a motorcycle cap and a leather jacket. The Highwaymen also have their own mottos which are: “Highwaymen Forever, Forever Highwaymen" and “Yea, though we ride the highways in the shadows of death, we fear no evil, for we are the most evil mother fuckers on the highway."
Despite being the largest motorcycle club in the city of Detroit, they are not acknowledged in the Detroit Federation of Motorcycle Clubs due to their violent and criminal reputation. In May 2007, after a two year investigation into the gang's activities, the FBI raided homes and chapter clubhouses resulting in the arrests of 40 Highwaymen and associates. The charges included insurance and mortgage frauds, murder for hire, cocaine trafficking, police corruption and racketeering.
Sons Of Silence MC criminal activities include murder, assault, drug trafficking, intimidation, extortion, prostitution, money laundering, and weapons trafficking. Considered one of the FBI's top five U.S. biker gangs, the Sons of Silence Motorcycle Club (SOSMC) has 30 chapters in 12 states, along with a growing contingency in Germany. They're reputed to have close to 300 full-patch members, and have on occasion been known to dabble in Nazi ideology and symbolism (chiefly that of white supremacy and bearing the swastika), although strong ties to the likes of the Aryan Brotherhood seem tenuous.
The Sons of Silence are another “1%er" motorcycle gang that was founded in Niwot, Colorado in 1966. The Sons of Silence have adopted the motto “Donec Mors Non Seperat", which is Latin for “Until Death Separates Us". The club patch has been adopted from the American Eagle logo used by the Budweiser beer company and bears an eagle superimposed over the letter A with their motto underneath.
In October of 1999, 37 members of the Sons of Silence were arrested on drug trafficking and illegal weapons charges during one of Denver's largest federal undercover operations. During the raids, The ATF seized 20 lbs. of methamphetamine, 35 firearms, four hand grenades, 2 silencers as well as cash and motorcycles.
Vagos MC (aka Green Nation) criminal activities include drugs and weapons (trafficking), assault, extortion, insurance fraud, money laundering, murder, theft, witness intimidation, extortion, prostitution, rape, and kidnapping. Vagos Motorcycle Club got started in the desolation of 1960s San Bernardino, California. Today, the gang, which includes both whites and Hispanics, has an estimated 300 full-patch members, and their criminal operations seem to be increasing every year, raising concerns among both the FBI and the ATF. Vagos MC are also sometimes known as Green Nation -- not because they ride environmentally friendly bikes, but because it's the color they fly.
Members of the club often bear a patch of the Norse god Loki riding a motorcycle. The club has approximately 24 chapters spread across the western United States in states such as Arizona and Nevada and also 3 in Mexico. A highly coordinated investigation in March of 2006 led to the arrests of 25 Vagos members and their associates in what has been labeled as the largest investigation in Southern California's history.
Warlocks MC (Pennsylvania Warlocks) criminal activities include drugs and arms (transportation and distribution), extortion, money laundering, prostitution, and murder. The over-100-strong membership of the Warlocks is one-fifth that of their Southern counterpart, the Florida Warlocks, but they refer to themselves, appropriately enough, as the “Original Warlocks.” Either small in number or simply very exclusive, their criminal activities are on par with any biker gang in the nation and -- this has to be said -- their website is one of the most informative and unapologetic. This all-white biker gang retains close ties to powerful crime families in Pennsylvania, and their insignia has mythological roots: the witch-like Harpy is a "female monster with a horrific face, pale with hunger and the body of a vulture." You won't find a better description, we assure you.
The Warlocks were founded in 1967 in Philadelphia, PA and gained a large number of members after the end of the Vietnam War. Consisting only of white males, The Warlocks have spread through the state of Pennsylvania and a good portion of the northeastern United States and also have chapters in the southeast United States as well as overseas in Germany and England. Their club colors are red and white. Members often adorn themselves and their vests with white supremacy insignia as well.
In 2008, Tommy Zaroff, a former President of the Bucks County, PA chapter was arrested on suspicion of possessing 10 pounds of methamphetamine. In October of the same year four members of The Warlocks were arrested and charged with producing, transporting and distributing methamphetamine throughout Berks and Montgomery Counties in Pennsylvania. It is alleged that they sold over 500 lbs. of methamphetamine worth approximately $9 million.
Bandidos MC criminal activities include drugs (production, transportation and distribution), arms dealing, money laundering, murder, and extortion. Don't let the rather silly, pot-bellied figure in their emblem mislead you: the Bandidos go by a very straightforward slogan, one this multiracial biker gang has been backing up since forming in the 1960s: "F**k the world. We are the people our parents warned us about." With about 2,500 members worldwide in 14 countries on 4 continents, the Texas-born Bandidos represent the fiercest and most violent opposition to the Hells Angels. The U.S. Department of Justice regards them as the second largest biker gang in the U.S. and considers them a "growing criminal threat" to the country.
Founded in San Antonio, TX in 1966 The Bandidos are among the more notorious of American Motorcycle Clubs. The colors of gold and red were adopted as the club's colors due to the fact that their founder was a former Vietnam Marine veteran. The Bandidos have around 90 chapters spread across the U.S. alone.
The Bandidos gang has a long and brutal history of illegal activity. A member of The Bandidos was arrested, tried and convicted of the 2006 murder of a well known flyweight boxer and a member of the rival Hell's Angels Motorcycle Club was sniped while leaving a restaurant in March of that same year during The Bandidos 40th Anniversary of the clubs annual birthday celebration. Police suspect that members of The Bandidos are responsible for the murder. Other members have been arrested from anything from murder to drugs and illegal weapons possession as well as assault and racketeering charges.
Outlaws MC criminal activities include drugs (production, transportation and distribution), arson, assault, bombings, extortion, fraud, murder, intimidation, kidnapping, money laundering, prostitution, and robbery. Also known as the American Outlaws Association (A.O.A.) and Outlaws Nation, the Outlaws Motorcycle Club features an estimated 1,700 members in 176 U.S. chapters and 12 foreign countries. U.S. law enforcement authorities claim the gang controls most of the Midwest, including much of the Great Lakes region. As you can see from their extensive criminal activities, there's not much the Outlaws haven't been convicted of, accused of or associated with. Cut them some slack, though: they've been around since the 1930s.
The gang started in Matilda's Bar on old Route 66 in McCook, IL. Using the insignia on Marlon Brando's leather jacket in The Wild One as inspiration, the club adopted the skull with cross pistons as their official club patch. Since the club began over 70 years ago their chapters have spread widely across the United States and have been well established in Australia, Asia, Europe and North and South America.
Harry Joseph Bowman, The World Leader of The American Outlaw Association (A.O.A.), was the international president of The Outlaws Motorcycle Club and presided over 30 chapters in the U.S. and 20 chapters in 4 other countries until he was sent to prison for 3 murders in 1999 after being on the F.B.I's Top 10 Most Wanted Fugitive list in 1998. Across the globe members of The Outlaws have been suspected, arrested, tried and convicted of countless crimes from prostitution, trafficking in narcotics and stolen goods, arms dealing, extortion and murder.
The Pagans formed in Maryland in 1959 and by 1965 had expanded rapidly. Their patch depicts the Norse fire giant Surtr sitting on the sun wielding a sword with the word Pagans in red, white and blue. Members are known to wear their patches on cut-off denim jackets with accompanying white supremacist and Nazi insignia patches. The club's members have also been seen with tattoos of ARGO (Ar Go Fuck Yourself) and NUNYA (Nun'Ya Fuckin' Business). Their territory seems to be confined strictly to the eastern coast in the United States.
Aside from their history of violent rivalry with the notorious Hell's Angels Motorcycle Club, The Pagans have been associated with numerous crimes including murder, arson, drug smuggling and have been linked to organized crime in the upper northeastern United States. In February of 2002, seventy-three members of The Pagans Motorcycle Club were arrested in Long Island, NY after violence erupted at a motorcycle and tattoo ball. The Pagans allegedly went to the ball specifically to confront members of The Hell's Angels MC resulting in 10 wounded bikers and one murdered Pagan member. Then in 2005, members of The Pagans allegedly shot and killed the Vice-President of the Philadelphia Chapter of The Hell's Angels.
Mongols MC criminal activities include drugs (transportation and distribution), money laundering, robbery, extortion, murder, assault, and intimidation. The Mongols Motorcycle Club, formed in the 1970s and inspired (in name) by the enormous Mongol empire of Genghis Khan, is believed to have about 70 chapters nationwide, though most of its 500 to 600 or so Latino and Native American members can be found in California, and more often than not, they are former members of Los Angeles-area street gangs. No surprise then that the ATF is one of many law enforcement agencies that consider the Mongols to be the "most violent and dangerous" biker gang currently operating in the United States. Allied with Bandidos, Outlaws and Sons of Silence, the Mongols are rivals with the Hells Angels.
The Mongols, also known as Mongol Nation or Mongol Brotherhood, were formed in Montebello, California from Hispanic bikers who were refused entry into The Hell's Angels MC due to their race. Their colors are black and white and their insignia bears the name Mongols in large black letters above a pony-tail sporting man riding a motorcycle wearing a leather vest and sunglasses while carrying a scimitar or cutlass. Mongol chapters are concentrated in the western United States, but have also opened in Canada, Mexico and Italy.
In 2008, the ATF coordinated a sting against The Mongols MC where 4 agents went undercover to become fully patched members while gaining intelligence about the gang's activities. This operation resulted in 38 arrests including the arrest of the club's president, Ruben “Doc" Cavazos. As part of the operation 160 search warrants were served and 110 arrest warrants were carried out. As part of the operation, members of The Mongols MC are now prohibited by law from the use of the Mongol MC logo and insignia including wearing the patches on vests or any other garb.
Hells Angels MC criminal activities include drugs (production, transportation and distribution), assault, extortion, murder, money laundering, and motorcycle theft. Easily the most notorious biker gang in the world, the Hells Angels operate in as many as 27 countries and pose "a criminal threat on six continents." What else would you expect from one of the most recognizable biker gangs in the world, one with so many legends attached to it that it's impossible to sort out truth from myth? Full-patch membership -- limited to white males who cannot be into child molestation -- is estimated to be under 4,000, although they're supported by a multitude of puppet clubs (like the Original Kings) and even some female clubs (like the Devil Dolls). Perhaps you've noticed the motif in some of the previous entries -- namely that many of the most notorious biker gangs operating right now are flat-out hostile with the Hells Angels. But when you're clear and free at the top, who needs allies?
The Hell's Angels have a long and thorough history on American highways. Much information concerning their origins is hazy due to their long-standing code of secrecy. Sometime within the 1940's or 1950's in California Hell's Angels MC was formed. Their insignia is the “death's head" logo which is copied from the insignia of the 85th Fighter Squadron and the 552nd Medium Bomber Squadron. Red lettering over white backgrounds stands for the club's colors. With so much popularity, Hell's Angels chapters have sprung up across the Untied States as well as Russia and New Zealand and the continents of North America, South America, Europe and Australia.
The Hell's Angels MC have gained mass notoriety in the U.S. due to their involvement in many highly publicized run-ins with the law and rival biker gangs. The most note-worthy of publicized events happened during the Altamont Free Concert at Altamont Speedway in December of 1969 where it is alleged that The Rolling Stones hired members of The Hell's Angels to stand-in as bodyguards for the band. Violence erupted in the crowd and also onto the performance stage and as a result one male was stabbed to death after brandishing a pistol. Another publicized incident occurred in Laughlin, Nevada in Harrah's Casino and Hotel. A violent confrontation in the casino between rival Mongols MC resulted in one fatally stabbed Mongol gang member and two fatally shot Hell's Angels members.
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